"Dear Vonnie" Speaking the Truth in Love

Each Saturday, I will do my best to answer your questions. I don't pretend to be an expert, but I know it's not easy being a wife and mother. It can be frustrating and discouraging, yet very rewarding. I'd be glad to listen to you, pray for you, and share some of my thoughts with you.

So, ask me something... anything...

Dear Vonnie,

What does “Speak the truth in love” mean to you? I find myself following the principle of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” most of the time; however that seems to be the opposite of what I would consider the teaching of “speaking the truth in love” demonstrates. Should we actively speak the truth in love, or should this be used as a last resort, when we can not avoid an uncomfortable subject?


Dear Puzzled,

This is a sensitive, but important, subject. It is so easy to make things worse if we handle something in the wrong way. Ultimately, when we love someone, we want the best for them, yet we want to maintain a good relationship. There may be something they are doing that bothers us. There is a right way and a wrong way of handling it. We need to bathe the situation in prayer. If we are sensitive to the Lord's leading we will know when to speak and when to be quiet.

I taught my children and my students to follow this sequence
when someone had done something that offended them:

1. If it is only something that is annoying, then ignore it.
2. Is it something that will cause future problems,or has it really hurt your feelings?
3. If you answered "yes" to #2, speak to that person politely. Tell them that what they are doing is wrong or harmful or just offensive to others. Do it kindly and offer to help them change.
4. If they do not listen, then you may speak to an authority to help you.
5. Pray for them, for yourself, that the relationship will be restored.

As adults, we have different problems, but the solutions are the same.

Suppose a neighbor lets his dog use your lawn.
WRONG - retaliate
NOT USUALLY NECESSARY - tell an authority (tattle)
BETTER - ignore him and quietly clean up the mess.
RIGHT - politely ask him to stop, if it is causing bitterness between you

Suppose a fellow church member spreads a rumor about you.
WRONG - retaliate
WRONG - talk and whine about it to everyone
BETTER - ignore it and forget it
RIGHT - quietly talk to that person about it, and get things right between you

Vengeance is never right, nor gossiping and seeking pity from all our friends. Even being quiet is wrong, if you haven't forgiven them and are letting bitterness fill your heart.

"Speaking in love" is wanting the best for those you love, for your personal family and your church family. It grieves the Lord when we can't get along with each other.

Ephesians 4:30-32

"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God,
whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger,
and clamour, and evil speaking,
be put away from you, with all malice:

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

Lord, teach us to love each other with Your love. Help us to deal with unpleasant circumstances in a loving and humble way. May we strive to live peaceable with our brothers and sisters.
In Jesus' Name, Amen


Laury said...

This is very good advice and Biblical. It is hard to confront people but it is almost always a relief to both involved.

Lydia said...

Yes I remember being taught those steps, and, thankfully, in my adult life, I have not had to use them very often! It is never easy, but always worth it to take care of it correctly. Thanks for this post!
Love you!

Anna said...

Mama, that was a very good question she had. I was waiting for those steps to be backed up with the reference I think in one of the Timothys on how to control church discipline...and it goes down that line: talk one on one, then authority, then the church board. Anyway, good answer!

LauraLee Shaw said...

Great insight and something I hold to myself, most of the time. I HATE conflict, so it's hard to do, but nothing is too hard for God...that's why we need His help. Love the way you gave the practical application at the end!


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