Truth in Love
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 (v.15).
Have you said something to someone that you later regretted? Perhaps you needed to speak hard words, and the person needed to hear them, but you feel bad because of the way you communicated your message. So you’re saddened that you failed to “speak the truth in love.” But what does that really mean? Is it about honesty? Is it about sweetening the cold, hard truth to make it more palatable?
This “truth in love” catchphrase appears in Ephesians 4:11-16. In the Greek text, it’s one long sentence. As we look at the context, we notice that it’s stated in contrast to immature children who are unstable and easily deceived by falsehood (v.14). The phrase is simply one word in Greek, which can be translated as “truthing in love.” It holds the idea of maintaining truth in love both in our talk and in our walk.
One Bible commentator puts it this way: “ ‘Speaking the truth’ pictures the right doctrine. ‘In love’ pictures the right spirit or attitude. We ought to havea great love of the truth and we also ought to do the truth, but we must do the truth in love.Truth without love is brutality, but love without truth is hypocrisy.”
In fact, speaking the truth in love is the outcome of a healthy church where all believers (not just the full-time staff) use their gifts to serve one another (vv.11-13). When a community speaks and lives out the truth in loving ways, it promotes unity, growth, health, and love (vv.15-16).
How can we become more truthful and loving? Paul says, “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. . . . And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:16-17).
—Poh Fang Chia
Read Ephesians 4:29 to see the kind of speech that pleases God.
What characterizes your conversation with other believers— opinions, idle talk, or truth? How can you grow in truth and love?