So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, 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. (Ephesians 4:11-15)
When Paul was speaking to the Ephesians in the passage above, he pointed out an important characteristic that describes a mature follower of Christ. That characteristic is being able to speak the truth in love.
In today’s Christian culture, there are two extremes when speaking the truth to other people. On one side, you have people who deliver the truth in a harsh, judgmental way, lacking compassion and empathy. On the other side, you have people who are affirming actions and behaviors that don’t line up with the truth, because they don’t want to hurt others’ feelings.
We must be careful not to fall into either of these camps.
However, there is a way to balance the positive aspects of these two methods. We should not be afraid to speak the truth to those who are walking in sin and darkness; but we should be able to do so in a kind, loving, and caring way. The goal is not for us to point out what other people are doing wrong so we can make them feel bad about themselves. The point is to help people live in victory rather than in sin by pointing them toward Jesus Christ our Lord.
I once heard a pastor say, “There is never an excuse to be unkind to someone.” I believe it is important that we live with that phrase at the forefront of our minds. We should boldly speak the truth of God’s Word, but let’s do our best to speak that truth in kindness.