Thursday, May 01, 2008

Speaking My Opinion in Semi-Love

I often quote the verse in Ephesians four that says we are to “speak the truth in love.” I quote it because I have a tendency to avoid doing this in one of two ways.

One way is I avoid a potential conflict altogether. This usually is not healthy because I don’t grow through avoidance and the issues rarely resolve themselves (they just become more difficult to deal with).

My second (and equally bad) way of dealing with issues is to attempt to sneak in through the side door – better known as passive-aggressive.

The reality is conflict is a necessary part of life. If we always agreed about everything there wouldn’t be challenges, learning and growth. We just need to handle conflict in healthy ways – which is why the Bible tells us to speak the truth in love.

But, here’s what I realized last week – I often speak my opinion in semi-love, under the guise of speaking the truth in love. What’s the difference? Well, there are many, but here are two:

1. My opinion really doesn’t matter unless it lines up with the truth;

2. I used the term “semi-love” because there’s usually something in it for me (selfishness).

If I am to speak the truth, I first must know the truth. As a Christ-follower, I believe the Bible is the basis for truth. So, unless what I am saying is in line with what the Bible teaches, it’s not truth.

The “in love” means my primary reason for speaking is to build the other person up. If I’m attempting to get my way or build myself up, then I’m not truly speaking in love.

So, how about you? Do you speak the truth in love? How do you think we can all get better at truly building others up?



'tis i said...

Hi Dave,
Is your reading, (W. Yount), leading to this post?

I'm guilty of the selfish driven speaking of semi-truth, as much as the next man.

You've already discussed the Greek way of life compared to the Hebrew, societally we've been raised to be rather selfish. So doesn't this Greek way of life compound our challenge to "speak the truth in love" by manifesting an inability to accept the truth in love , as well?

I've been trying to put into practice, recently, [Proverbs 3:27} "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it." And conversely keep my negative opinions to myself. Which is the far more difficult thing to do!

Dave said...

Hello 'tis i,

I don't think this came from my reading (at least not directly). More from my time just pondering who I am versus who God desires for me to be.

I think you're right on target that we rarely want to hear the truth (even if spoken in love) if it is a word of correction. Yet, it's really what we need to be willing to hear if we want to build deep relationships.

I think speaking the truth in love can also be saying positive things to each other. As an example, I really enjoy doing yard work (most of the time). The other day I was finishing up the yardwork and a jogger going by yelled over, "Your yard looks great!" I had never seen this person before, but her words of encouragement felt really good. I have spent a lot of time getting that yard to look nice and for someone to notice (and speak) really made my day. It's these little words of encouragement, that can drive us forward.