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Truth should always be spoken in love. Sometimes our intentions are misunderstood, and sometimes we do not understand our own motives for saying things. Spiritual maturity is about being able to hear what someone is saying, and sifting it through the truth we know about ourselves, and then asking the Holy Spirit to reveal what we don’t know. God is not out to humiliate, or embarrass us. We have to learn to take these situations and lay them out before the Lord and admit that we don’t know what to do. Words that are spoken cannot be unspoken. The most difficult thing to do is to go back and say “I’m sorry”. When we have reacted by over-spiritualizing something, it’s even more difficult. Most of the time we’re not being attacked by demons, but by consequences. A hard thing to admit, when our reputations are at stake. Sometimes, truth hurts. But healing is not possible unless truth is spoken in love. This is the value in counseling. If someone has known a great deal of harshness and unkindness in their life, it can be a tremendously restorative experience to have a person who treats you with love and respect. A good counselor models the love of God to their clients, and teaches by example what grace and mercy look like in relationship.
So, where does that leave us? For starters, let’s be gentle, kind, and forgiving with each other. In his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul encouraged the new believers to speak the truth in love, for the express purpose of becoming more like Christ. He said: “Then we will no longer be immature like children.” When we have a problem with another believer, we should go to them privately, and speak to them in a way that encourages growth and healing. Children react defensively. Not every situation is a ‘win-win’ situation, and contrary to popular opinion, this shouldn’t be our goal. Love is. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is let go of your need to be right; to say, “You know what, I’ve hurt you, and I didn’t mean to. I’m so sorry. What can I do to make this right?” Think of how many problems in the church could be avoided if love was our primary goal. Right thinking may be accomplished by Truth alone, but no true soul healing occurs without love, in or outside of the church.
“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” -Ephesians 4:15 NLT
- Others May, You Cannot (challies.com)