“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”
Christian servants are always on the search for how to help the young Christian to grow in the LORD. Throughout the years, I have seen many different church ministries or programs started to help mature young Christians. The one thing that is evident with any of these programs used to help young Christians to grow is that they are only successful if they follow the growing combination found in the verse above.
It is interesting that one of the sharpest speakers in the Scriptures talks about “speaking the truth in love.” Though at times the Apostle Paul came across as harsh or hard, he still had those churches and individuals who grew immensely. The key is found in the growing combination of “speaking the truth in love.” Let me show you four observations concerning this growing combination.
First, truth comes before love. One of the greatest mistakes that many people make is that they allow their love for someone to change what they should say which only leads to compromise. Nobody can grow without truth. If you don’t keep truth as your central focus, you will quickly compromise what you believe because you don’t want to “hurt” someone. Truth is the seed to growth. You cannot grow as a Christian without hearing truth. Sometimes, truth spoken will hurt, but that doesn’t mean you should trim the message because it will hurt. Truth must always be your focal point.
Second, love is not love without truth. You will notice in the verse above that the truth spoken is what made love. If you take truth away, love will no longer be love. The cry of the spiritual wolves to be loving is a farce because you cannot love without speaking truth. For instance, what kind of father would I be if I didn’t warn my daughter of the places, people or things that would hurt her? I would be an unloving father if I did such a thing. Likewise, the preacher, teacher or parent who tells the truth is more loving than those who only want to coddle people in their sin. Truth is what makes love loving.
Third, truth without love will damage. There are some who only tell the truth, but there is no love with their message. My friend, this will hurt people. The more truth you speak, the more you must love people. Love is what makes truth palpable. When someone knows that you love them, they will allow you to be sharp with them so they can continue to grow. The question you must ask yourself is, do those who follow you perceive that you are doing everything for yourself or for their best interest? Many people have been hurt because truth was spoken out of respite or retaliation. If the only time you speak about something is in direct response to what someone did to you, you may be speaking truth, but your truth has become a weapon to hurt. NEVER use truth as a weapon, but use it to help others to grow in the LORD.
Fourth, truth and love together result in growth and Christian maturity. If you want to grow people, you must always let love be the clothing of truth. Certainly, you must speak truth, but let truth be wrapped with love. Always remember that the more you love people, the more you can help them with truth. The challenge I want you to remember is that when you put love and truth together, you will always find that it is a growing combination. Don’t try to separate them, but use both and your efforts will result in another’s growth and maturity.