Most of us have heard the saying, “If you can’t think of anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Unfiltered comments often cause great damage, and it takes a lot of growing up to be able to hold your tongue. But silence can cause a lot of damage too.
Ephesians 4:15 gives us a better way:
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”
Speaking the truth in love is the path towards maturity and is necessary for the church to grow into completeness. So let’s break it down to get a better understanding of what speaking the truth in love means.
Growing up entails being told what to do. No parent will assume their child will clean his or her room. They make it audible. What is right and true isn’t always intuitive. In fact, Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things.” Our desires fool us. So as believers, we need each other to call us out when our desires guide us away from God’s design lest we remain immature.
Children don’t always make the best decisions. If given the option, they’ll choose ice-cream sprinkled with goldfish for breakfast. Growing up means growing in discernment. The same is true for a believer. Spiritual war is the constant battle between truth and lies, and we need to continually hear the truth from God’s Word to have discernment. The truth is the antidote to the deception of our desires.
Children grow best in a secure environment, and a parent’s love offers them the security they need. Before hearing the hard truth, a believer needs to know that the truth-teller is for them. There needs to be a context of “I’m here for you, and we’re in this together.” Before speaking truth into another person’s life, there must be a willingness to walk alongside the person and help shoulder their burdens to help strengthen their area of weakness.
Growing Up Together
This is one reason why committing to a local church is essential for every believer. Church members enter into a covenant with one another that voices their commitment to one another. Church membership establishes the needed context for truth to be spoken directly and personally. God’s love is demonstrated by His covenant to be for His people, no matter what the cost. Our response to His love likewise entails committing ourselves to the well-being of other believers. Speaking truth in love is how we help one another grow to be like Christ.
If you attend Mercy Hill and would like to learn more about what it looks like to commit to a local church, come attend an upcoming Weekender.
-Bryan Miller (Connections and Missions Pastor)