The myth of "Speaking the Truth in Love"
A better understanding for what people mean when they "speak the truth in love"
The use of Scripture
Many times people say they are “speaking the truth in love,” and that saying is really starting to bother me.Typically when someone says they are going to “speak the truth in love” they are about to attack someone with different beliefs, morals, or lifestyles. The worst part of all of this, people who "speak the truth in love" feel this gives them free reign to say whatever they want, no matter how hateful or upsetting it is.
Ephesians 4:10-16 (although 4:15 is the one being quoted as "speaking the truth in love") tells us that the point of "speaking the truth in love" is to build up the Body of Christ, to help people have a strong foundation and support one another. How does attacking another person serve this end? I am a big fan of analogies, and Ephesians is all about the Body of Christ being one and united. So if someone "speaks the truth in love", it is very similar to the hand telling the foot it is going to be eternally punished because it does not have a thumb to grab. Or it is like the ear making fun of the eye because it cannot hear the words. We seem to have lost the point of this one verse in the Bible, and I believe it is because too many people have grabbed onto this verse without looking at what the Bible is actually talking about. The Bible is about how to love people, and showing Christ’s love to others.
Speak the truth WITH Love
I think we need to change one of the words. Let us try something very different, let us speak the truth WITH love and see what happens.
Here is the difference as I see it. When you fall, would you rather have someone tell you what you did wrong, or help you up? When you are hungry, would you rather have someone tell you to get a job, or that the reason you are hungry is because you do not live your life just like they do? OR would you rather someone take you out to a meal and help you find a way to help you continue getting food on a regular basis. This is the difference I see between speaking the truth IN LOVE and speaking the truth WITH LOVE. If you disagree with someone, or if you think your way is right or better, then say something nice about the other person. Focus on what the person is doing right or help them in a kind and considerate way. Allow them to see what love is, not just hear scripture about how they are going to hell in a hand basket or how God wants them to be punished (my opinions on this thinking would be a whole other soapbox). Allow a moment of reflection of their lives before you "speak the truth in love." I wonder how many times people are trying their best and just need a little boost now and then.
What Love really is
We are not meant to be the same. If we read the Ephesians passage fully we are supposed to understand that we are created unique and thus meant to be different. We were never meant to see the world the same way. If we constantly focus on what people do better than us or just different from us we are going to be spending a lot of time worrying and fretting. God does not want us to judge others, and that seems to be a big aspect of the Bible that gets ignored when people "speak the truth in love". For some reason, these people typically feel like they know the Bible better than everyone else, and so they are going to help us understand the simple truth, "They are right, we are wrong, and we are going to Hell because of it."
It is sad that we cannot stay focused on what Love is supposed to be about. Going to the 1 Corianthians 13, we find all kinds of definitions for Love-(NIV from the internet) 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Do not judge, let God judge others.
Speaking the Truth in Love
How do you feel when someone uses the phrase "Speaking the Truth in Love"?See results without voting
What to do when someone "speaks the truth" to you
Funny, none of that says Love is going to make you feel pathetic and evil, hated or reviled. It basically says if you do not feel better after someone offers you Love, then it wasn't really Love. So, if someone tells you they are going to "speak the truth in love", I invite you to simply say "no thanks" and walk away...
Or maybe If you hear someone“speak the truth in love”, listen and acknowledge their opinions and their beliefs. But then try something else and watch what happens. Explain your beliefs in a loving and caring way. Explain to them why you are doing what you are doing. Show them what you call love with actions and compassion. The old saying is true, “Actions DO speak louder than words.” If you are going to show someone that you care about them enough to help, then show them, not tell them. Then just watch and see what happens to the person who “speaks the truth in love”. I have a feeling they will become suddenly quiet.
More by this Author
Much of my theology comes from answering questions from my son. I value his desire to learn and hope that explaining his questions to everyone people can also help their own children learn and grow in God.
What do you do with your hands when you pray? Why do some people put them together while others leave them by their sides? This HUB explains the different reasons why people do what they do with their hands while they...
John Calvin is one of the foremost minds in the Reformed Tradition. His TULIP helps many people understand how God is involved in their lives and how they are loved by a truly sovereign God.