Speaking the Truth in Love (Ephesians 4:15)

Take a moment to consider the people who are in this worship service.  As you consider them, ask yourself this question: “Who are these people?”  This is not a silly exercise because how you answer that question about one another says a lot about how you treat one another.

What if we refused to see one another as obstacles on our path to happiness, but saw one another as opportunities to love and serve on our path to heaven?

God cares a great deal about how we treat one another.  Last week we discussed how to stir up one another (Heb 11:23-25) and this week we will discuss speaking the truth in love with one another (Eph 4:15).  These two sermons are the first two “one anothers” we will discuss over the next few weeks.

But let’s return to our question: “Who are these people?”  If, for example, you see those around you as fellow customers in a country club with competing desires and preferences; then they are viewed as a potential threat and if they get in your way there will be hostility and friction.

But what if we refused to see one another through this lens of self-centeredness and saw one another through the lens of self-sacrifice? What if we see those around us, not as competing customers, but as fellow patients struggling with the same disease we have?  What if we realized that everyone around us is struggling (whether they realize it or not) with the disease of sin and in need of our help?  What if we, as one pastor has said, see the church as a place “where flawed people place their trust in Christ, gather to know and love Him better, and learn to love others as He has designed”?

How you answer the question determines how you treat one another.  This morning we shall discuss the importance of putting away lies and speaking the truth to one another in love.

Put Away Lies

Of the “six things that the LORD hates” and the “seven that are an abomination to him”, number two on the list “is a lying tongue” (Prov 6:16).  This means that Christians must guard both their mouths and their ears against lies.  We must be discerning enough to reject false teaching and we must be loving enough to reject false witnesses.  God makes it clear in Scripture that He strongly detests lying and deceit. Proverbs 12:22 says, “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”  Psalm 101:5 says, “Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.

God watches and keeps a record of every slanderous word, every deceptive conversation, and every lying tongue.  Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”  Of all the things Christians oppose, a lying tongue must be foremost.

Speak the Truth in Love

The Bible says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” (Eph 4:25).  We must put away lies and we must speak the truth in love.  We must make sure the content of our speech is Christ-honoring.  Therefore the content of our speech should always be truthful and honest: including being encouraging at times and confrontational at times.  Truthful speech encourages godliness and obedience and seeks to plead for more growth.  Truthful speech confronts ungodliness and sin knowing “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph 5:6) and “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity” (2 Tim 2:19).

Truthful speech is important to the health of the church.  Imagine a doctor who refuses to tell a patient of his illness out of fear of hurting his feelings.  Imagine a person being prescribed medication to help them get better and a “loved one” refusing to confront them about their failure to take it.  In both of these cases, much needed truth is not being spoken.  In the church, a lack of truth is a sign that there are problems.  We, as Christians, must speak the truth at all times in all situations.

Speak the Truth in Love

We must make sure the character of our speech is Christ-honoring.  While the truth is vitally important, we all know that there is a big difference between someone who “tells it like it is” and someone who speaks the truth in love.  Sadly, we can use the truth to hurt, manipulate, and cut down one another in order to elevate ourselves.  Our words must be Christ-honoring and loving.  Everything we say should be filtered through the two great commands Jesus gave:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:37-39)

Before any word comes out of our mouth, we should ask, “Does this stir up love for God?  Does this encourage love for others?”  In order to determine whether or not what you say is truly loving, put it through the test of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

Every church has the responsibility to be healthy and a healthy church is known by its willingness to put away falsehood and speak the truth in love to one another.  What if we refused to see one another as obstacles on our path to happiness, but saw one another as opportunities to love and serve on our path to heaven?