The Truth about Speaking the Truth in Love

by Edie Melson

Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. Ephesians 4:14-15 CSB 

“Speak the truth in love.” 

I’ve heard that admonition about as long as I’ve been in church. It’s advice that’s generally given when a situation is dicey. It’s uttered as encouragement, in an almost don’t-forget-to-buckle-your-seatbelt tone of voice. But just with a seatbelt, there’s no guarantee the outcome will turn out the way we expect.

I’ve also heard the phrase tossed about after a situation blows up, usually with a sorrowful shake of a head. “If only they’d spoken the truth in love.”

Beyond that, the advice to speak the truth in love carries with it an unwritten assurance—a false assumption. Do it correctly, and everything will turn out fine. While that does occasionally happen, usually it’s after some serious fallout. And there’s never a guarantee about the outcome.

At best, truth speaking is an untidy proposition. 

It involves laying bare the lies we’ve accepted as truth. No one likes being exposed, and that’s what truth does. God’s truth is a light that shines in the dark. It makes visible the things we’d often rather keep hidden.

But when a lie is holding the position that belongs to truth, it must be done. It’s rarely pleasant. Replacing a lie with truth means that some serious restructuring needs to occur. I don’t think I’m alone when I confess that I’m not a big fan of change—even change for the better. Let me assure you that exchanging a lie with truth is a MAJOR change. It’s about as perfect a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree change as you can get.

The bottom line is this, though. No matter how difficult, when we practice God’s love, we will be called on to speak the truth. It won’t be pretty, and it certainly won’t be nice—for anyone. But that’s okay because a friend recently reminded me of this truth—being nice isn’t one of the ten commandments.

When we follow Jesus, we find ourselves in messy situations. We’re accused of being mean, our reputations are maligned, and even our families are attacked. None of that should stop us from loving those God puts in our path enough to speak the truth.

So today I’m drawing a line in the sand. I’m refusing to bow to those who want me to be nice. Instead I’m going to love—with the truth—no matter how hard it is. It’s going to get messy, but I know I’m going to get to see God at work, redeeming unredeemable situations. 

How about you . . . care to join me?

This article was brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. As a popular speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world.

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Her numerous books, including Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos and the award-winning Soul Care series reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. She lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she spends time off hiking with her husband and her camera. Connect with her on and through social media.

Join the conversation: Has anyone ever spoken the truth in love to you? How did God use it in your life?