One technique our church has taught for studying God’s Word is to look at each word in a verse, emphasizing it and seeing how that gives insight to the verse as a whole. One place I love to use this study tool is on verses that seem well known to me already. When “Speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) popped up as the verse of the day during our recent Miracle of Mercy study I decided to use this technique.
In general with this verse, I feel like each part is one over which I could stumble when it comes to living it out.
SPEAK: I hold back and stay content to “let my actions show” when really I may just be afraid to speak up.
THE TRUTH: Other times I may speak, but what comes out isn’t truth or is only partially truth, not THE truth. Rarely is it a flat out lie, though we can all say that’s happened too. Rather, I’m tempted to beat around the truth or hide the truth in wishy-washy thoughts. If I’m going to speak truth, it needs to be the whole truth, unhidden.
IN (love): This is where the rubber hit the road for me in my recent reflections on this verse. To be in something meant it’s completely surrounded by something else. If I’m IN a house, from the outside, you’d see the house (and perhaps me peeking through a window). If an ingredient is IN soup, you may taste the individual ingredient, but overall, you just taste soup.
I think sometimes I serve up truth WITH love, as a side dish or a house with a garage. It’s much harder to speak truth IN love. When I can do that, what the person on the receiving end sees most, is love. When it’s serve as a side dish, I have a much higher chance tog hurting the other person, but if it’s all wrapped in love, the truth still gets communicated but in a way they can receive. Maybe it’s like parents who hid medicines in foods their kids enjoy.
LOVE: Lastly, love. I can stumble to love out this verse when I don’t have a heart of love. This means I have true and honest unconditional care and compassion for the other. I’m willing to sacrifice. This is where the shift can happen from “setting someone straight” and walking with a brother or sister into a better way of living. This is the place to stop and do a heart check.
Questions I want to ask myself next time I need to “speak the truth in love to someone”:
- Am I actually speaking up?
- Is the truth I’m speaking THE truth that needs communicated or just A truth?
- Am I sharing the whole truth or hiding being some lies? Am I adding a bunch of caveats?
- While getting straight to the point, is that truth also completely wrapped in love? How will the other person receive that truth… with a side of love or seeing love as the main dish cooked with truth all through it?
- What is my motivation? Is it simply to set them straight? That’s not love! Love requires sacrifice. Does this require me to give of myself? How might I be able to sacrifice lovingly to walk with this person into truth?