” . . . But speaking the truth in love, may (we) grow up into Him in all things, who is the head, even Christ.” — Ephesians 4:15
The truth hurts. Boy, don’t we know it! Think back on a time when someone bluntly pointed out some flaw in us or some deficiency in our work. How did it make us feel? It really hurt, didn’t it? You may have tried to defend yourself, even if the charge was true. Human nature is always ready to fire back, perhaps with something equally hurtful.
Of course, such exchange is unlikely to produce anything worthwhile –quite the opposite! It certainly is not reminiscent of the kind of love Jesus desires to see among His followers.
When it is time to speak, we dare not speak less than the truth. However, we should hesitate to use the truth as a hammer. Christians want to speak the truth in love.
Among Christians the truth must be a commodity regularly traded, even when it results in confrontation. For many confrontation is uncomfortable, unpleasant, and to be avoided at all costs. However, resentment may grow if the situation is not faced.
Confrontation is unpleasant. It can feel like applying antiseptic to an open wound. Ouch! That stings! Yet it is better than letting the wound become infected. However, this fact does not give license to be mean or caustic. Christian confrontation starts and ends with love.
You cannot lovingly confront someone if you have a chip on your shoulder or if you expect the worst. Also, loving confrontation is not nagging. It states the point of concern and seeks to deal with it in a timely manner.
There is no surer way of turning a discussion into a fight than to start off by accusing the other person. A far better approach is to use that which is called “I” language. When using “I” language I am expressing how something makes me feel. If I use “you” language, it is probably going to sound condemning and puts the other person immediately on the defensive.
For example, there is a world of difference between saying, “I am uncomfortable arriving late at church. Is there anything I can do to help?” and “You always make us late for church. You don’t even care, do you?”
It is vital to remember that we are dealing with someone we love. Our spouse or our children or our Christian friend is not our enemy.
It is a good idea to focus on the behavior of the person rather than on the person’s character. Since we cannot read each other’s heart, concentrate on the facts rather than on the motive. Few things are as hazardous as presuming to tell someone what he thinks or feels.
We want to understand each other, so it is important to speak clearly and to listen patiently and carefully. To resolve the matter, we turn to the Scriptures for guidance.
What it finally all boils down to is daily exercising ourselves in the Ministry of the Keys–honestly confessing our sins to each other and readily forgiving one another.
This is essential especially when there has been a confrontation. Our priority is not to prove that we are right, but to give and receive the very forgiveness of sins which Christ won on the cross.
Christ Himself has granted each believer the authority, privilege, and responsibility to forgive sins and open heaven’s gates. No better expression of love can ever be given or received.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).
–Pastor Delwyn Maas