How to speak the truth in love

Trevor Lund
11 min readFeb 27, 2023

One of the most important lessons found in the Bible is to speak the truth in love. This practice is essential for spiritual growth and developing a closer connection with Jesus Christ. It can be difficult to remain honest while still being kind, so it’s important to understand why this practice matters and how to apply it in our everyday lives. Learn more in the Message Speak the Truth in Love.

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Ephesians 4:15–30 Holman Christian Standard Bible But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head — Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part. Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, assuming you heard about Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus. You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbour, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity. The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption.

Can I pray?

I remember a conversation I had with a friend who was a leader in a church. She was saying something she said someone that really seemed harsh to me. She could tell by my face I was taken back by what she said.

Her retort was “We’re supposed to speak to the truth.”

To which I said, “The verse is …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.”

She had realized, while it was the truth, it wasn’t the truth in love. She went to apologize.

So let’s start with the starting place.

What is truth?

That’s what Pilate asked when he was questioning Jesus and Jesus said he was born and came into the world to testify to the truth and the all who love the truth will recognize what he says is true John 18:37–38

Jesus had already declared in John 14:6 that

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Jesus is the truth. We speak the truth in love to one another to build up each of us to more and more like Jesus. Hmmm…

Truth is not truth that I assume is the truth.

Truth is not my opinion.

Truth is not what’s popular to those I agree with.

Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Jesus is the truth. He’s what we share in love. And as we share Him in love we all build up each other to become more and more like Jesus.

John also describes Jesus as the Word, the λόγος,

Jesus is the living λόγος

The Bible is the written λόγος

If you want to know what the truth is, find out the revelation of Jesus in the the written word. It is living and active and sharper than any two edge sword Hebrews 4:12 It shows you what the living Jesus wants you to know about Him.

What is love?

What is the love we’re supposed to be speaking the truth in?

1 Corinthians 13:4–7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

This is ἀγάπη love. It’s the same kind of love that’s in Ephesians 4:15. ἀγάπη love is that love that is a decision, a choice.

It’s our choice to speak the truth in love.

Why Speak Truth in Love?

Ephesians 4:15 tells us that speaking the truth in love helps us grow as believers. It brings about maturity for the individual and the church as a whole. Verse 14 tells us more about why,

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

As mature believers we are equipped for God’s good, worked out in and through us.

Ephesians 4:25 Speak the truth, each one to his neighbour, because we are members of one another.

We speak the truth in love to pursue growth and maturity that edifies the community of believers, because we are members of one another.

To sum up:

Speaking the truth in love is speaking that which is doctrinally correct and that which proceeds from a biblically committed life to a person who is in need of correction. It is done in love for the benefit of one who needs some adjustment to their attitudes or their actions.

Three reasons we might be afraid to speak the truth in love

The first reason we don’t speak the truth in love is fear of others. We are afraid of losing friendships or straining relationships. Unfortunately, this just compounds our own sin. In Galatians 1:10 , Paul warns us that if we are people-pleasers, we are not servants of Christ.

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10

Another reason we don’t speak to others when it is needed is because of fear of rejection. It’s possible that we’ll be labeled as judgmental or self-righteous. When this happens, we can take great comfort in 1 Peter 2:20–24

Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.

A further reason we don’t speak the truth in love is because we fear not knowing what to say. While this concern is legitimate, it’s one that can be easily remedied by being prepared. Paul is clear in Romans 15:14 that all believers are able to help each other, and in 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul tells us how to be ready for this task. We are competent to counsel, but we must know what the Word of God says so that we know how to address each situation. And by the way, Jesus told us the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say. (Luke 12:12)

Luke 12:12 “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”

We can’t let fear keep us from speaking the truth in love.

Remember last week’s message? We are only to fear God.

Remember:

Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

How do you speak the truth in love?

We must remember, this is not about us; it is about the spiritual welfare of others. We also do this is because it is a command, as seen in Ephesians 4, Matthew 18:15–17 and James 5:19–20.

Be KIND

K — Know you can be like Jesus. Eph. 4:20 -21

I — Impart life when you impart correction. Eph. 4:26

N — Never not encourage. Eph. 4:29

D — Do not grieve Holy Spirit. Eph. 4:30

K — Know you can be like Jesus

Ephesians 4:20 -21 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him,

The Bible tells us that Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

He spoke the truth in love to a woman by a well in John 4. Just by starting a conversation with her and asking for a drink of water, Jesus broke social norms of race and gender that would prevent a Jewish man from even talking to a Samaritan woman. Then he, after pointing out intimate details of unhealthy patterns she had, offered her hope and true satisfaction through a relationship with Him by faith.

Jesus offers love and acceptance alongside truth. Remember that your goal in speaking is to help others see how Jesus’ death and resurrection gives them a greater life than what the world offers.

Do I know I can be like Jesus?

I — Impart life when you impart correction.

Ephesians 4:26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,

It’s OK to be angry, but don’t sin in your anger (Ephesians 4:26). Your words have the power to restore and creatively rebuild, but they also have the power to harm relationships in a lasting and damaging way (James 3:9–10).

Understand before being wanted to be understood.

Timely — don’t let the sun go down on your anger and don’t give the devil a foothold. v.27

Don’t nurse it, don’t rehearse it , don’t re-hash it, don’t bash it.

Am I reacting or intentionally building up?

N — Never not encourage

Ephesians 4:29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Know you’re not in the right place when you’re wanting to put someone else in their place.

Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

To knock someone off their high horse, you’re already on your own.

Ephesians 4:29b Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Realize you can judge to condemn or judge to discern.

One brings death and the other brings life.

Matthew 7:1–5 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

Does this hurt me to say this or am I enjoying taking the other person down a peg or two?

D — Do not grieve Holy Spirit

Ephesians 4:30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

How do you not grieve Holy Spirit?

Ephesians 4:31–32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Live the way he wants us to live.

Since you live by the Spirit, keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 Let His fruit grow in you and search the Spirit’s counsel before any exchange making sure to rely on the Spirit in your weakness.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. Romans 8:26–27.

Am I grieving Holy Spirit in the way I’m living or what I’m saying?

K — Know you can be like Jesus. Eph. 4:20 -21

I — Impart life when you impart correction. Eph. 4:26

N — Never not encourage. Eph. 4:29

D — Do not grieve Holy Spirit. Eph. 4:30

What is the Result of Speaking the Truth in Love?

Paul gives us several results in 2 Timothy 2:24–26. (NLT)

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

  1. God can change their hearts.
  2. They can come to their senses.
  3. They can escape from the devil’s trap.

The key is we gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Holy Spirit will give you the words. I’ve learned it’s often best to ask genuine questions.

Conclusion

Speaking the truth in love will be difficult and may seem costly in the short run. But it’s an investment God wants us to make. Like an investment; it pays more long-range dividends rather than short-term gains .

We speak the truth in love to pursue growth and maturity that edifies the community of believers. Ephesians 4:16

Reflection Questions

Is there someone God would have you speak the truth in love to?

You can purpose in your heart today to go begin or continue a loving discussion.

Is there something in your life you sense Holy Spirit wants you to get rid of before someone tries to speak to you in love about it?

You can confess and repent and walk in the freedom truth brings today.

Take some time to hear from Holy Spirit today.

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Trevor Lund

I help you to not conform but be transformed so you can have peace at all times and in every situation