Over the last couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to teach groups of women and teen girls, and God keeps reminding me to speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4 has become a favorite passage of mine because of its rich exhortation to believers. You can’t read this chapter without walking away challenged. Paul exhorts us to be obedient as we, “take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth” (Eph. 4:22-24, CSB).
We’re called to look different than those who don’t know Christ.
As we put on our new selves, part of our obedience to Christ is to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:25, ESV). The CSB Bible puts it this way, “Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25, CSB).
Here’s the deal. We can’t separate speaking truth and love. If we only speak truth, we miss opportunities to be kind and compassionate towards those around us. If we’re only loving, we miss the opportunity to shed light on the situation before us and bring truth to it. We’re doing ourselves and the people in our lives a great disservice when we don’t speak the truth in love.
Remember those plastic protractors we used in middle school math? They’re used to measure degrees. I remember my math teacher showing us what a line at 90 degrees looks like. She then drew a line at 91 degrees. It started off almost indistinguishable from the line at 90 degrees, but slowly and surely, the lines spread farther apart. The same is true with the truth. Anything that’s just one degree off from truth doesn’t take long to get really far from its point of origin. When we stray away from the truth of the Bible, it doesn’t take long to find ourselves heading in a completely different direction.
Oftentimes, the truth is hard to hear. We’re then tempted to soften the blow of the truth by not speaking the full truth, and rather, only showing love towards the girls in our lives. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have to be faithful to speak the truth in love, even when it hurts. As a leader in the lives of teen girls, be willing to speak the truth, even when it’s hard and may hurt. Standing firm on the foundation of God’s Word will never return void, but that truth must be brought with love like Jesus shows us in scripture.
Jesus proclaimed truth, but he loved people while he did it. Jesus was incredibly relational, and so are we. As we build relationships with girls, we have to realize that our status with them isn’t the most important thing, but pointing them to a Savior who loves and knows them intimately is crucial. When you find yourself facing a tough conversation, pray fervently for discernment and wisdom as you speak the truth in love.