Truth without love is unkind. Love without truth is unreal.
Our growth, both as individuals and as an expression of Christ’s body depends on our being both truthful and loving at the same time. Paul of Tarsus wrote: “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
If we avoid the truth to try to not appear “unloving,” we spread deception. However, if we speak the truth without heart-felt love, God’s agape, we can unleash pain and create defensiveness in others. But if we blend love and truth together, hearts and lives are transformed.
That’s what William Booth and the early Salvation Army did. They wrapped the truth about Heaven, Hell, repentance, and salvation, in the love of soup, soap, support, and shelter.
Love is lived out through kindness; and kindness is the best communicator of truth. So if we wrap (speak) truth in love and kindness, it is much more easily received. Our hostile world needs fresh, creative displays of truth spoken with love. And God wants to use you to do just that. But how?
Simple. Before you speak a truth to someone that they may have trouble receiving, first show them that you genuinely care about them as a human being. Once they know you care they will be much more willing to receive what you have to say.
Then, before you go speak to them, here are a few ideas that may help you get ready:
1) First, think about how you might say it in a way they can best receive.
2) Ask yourself, “How would I feel if someone said that to me?”
3) Ask yourself, “If I needed to say that to the person I love the most in the world, how would I want to say it?”
4) Pray and ask God to give you compassion for the person and also the right words to say.
5) If it is really touchy it is better to write it down first, then read it and edit it.
6) Then go and humbly say (or write and send) what you need to say.
My dad used to keep a plaque in his office that read: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a tremendous battle.” To help someone ignore the truth about themselves is unkind. So is speaking the truth to them in a mean or harsh way. True kindness speaks the truth in love!