Speaking The Truth In Love

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
(Ephesians 4:15-16, NRSV)

In recent weeks I have written about listening (ears to hear) and looking (open my eyes). Today’s devotional is about speaking—speaking the truth in love.

I am generally an easy-to-be-with companion. I am not afraid of conflict, but neither do I seek it. When asked what I want to eat or what I want to watch on Netflix or which task I want to be assigned in a group setting, I am likely to say, “Anything is fine with me.” The self-protective element in that response is knowing that I will not be held responsible if someone else makes the decision. (Please do not misunderstand. I am not proud of this trait!)

As is often the case, my reflections are a message to myself as much as to others. I know that a growing edge for me is learning to speak up and say what needs to be said, even when the words may be hard for someone else to hear or conflict may result. Expressing my preference about what to watch is trivial, but sharing with another person the fact that I have been hurt by words said, asking someone to share a burden I am carrying, or confronting others about the harm caused by their behavior is important. It is also often difficult. Thankfully, there is a middle path between keeping silent and ranting in indignation.

In the last discussion of Kendi’s book, How to Be an Antiracist, the clergy team responded to the question, “What can we do to make a difference?” One of several answers given involves speaking the truth—calling out racist ideas, jokes, or assumptions—whenever we encounter them. That will be an important but sometimes difficult action to take. Tomorrow night our Sacred Conversation about Race and Privilege is an interview with three local leaders. We will be asking them about their experience and what we can do to fight against racism. I have asked them to speak the truth in love to us.

In the passage from Ephesians above, Paul provides the context for Christians speaking the truth. We are called to be honest with ourselves, confronting our tendency to self-deception. We are called to be honest with each other, sharing the truth as we understand it, whatever the situation. But—and this is heart of it—we do so in love. We care for one another. We speak humbly to others, recognizing that they too are children of God, made in God’s image. According to Paul, speaking the truth in love is an integral part of growing spiritually, growing up “in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” and growing as a community, “the whole body, joined and knit together….building itself up in love.”

Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing
Assistant Minister

For Truth:
God whose Word is the Truth, We confess that sometimes it’s hard to know what is true and what is not. Help us to see your truth and to speak the truth in love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.