When Paul encourages the Ephesians to walk in unity, he challenges them to practice "speaking the truth in love." Ephesians 4:15-16
And thus began the topic "Truth in Love," echoed further in the Bible by both Peter and John. With so much emphasis on both, you'd think real life application would be more common. Unfortunately, examples of "over-truth" or the lack thereof are overwhelmingly numerous and grotesque.
So here's my question: Why?Why are we called to speak the "Truth in Love?"
It may seem obvious, but I find personally knowing "why" helps me walk in obedience with more care.
So here's a metaphor:
Truth is like Water.
Water washes and cleans revealing what is underneath. Most dirt comes off with scrubbing but certain things need more than just water. Tar for example.
Similarly, the law reveals our sin and rebellion. In the Old Testament there are sacrifices and offerings for sin, but no provision made for our rebellion, also termed "iniquities." Thankfully, Christ's death is the sacrifice for our rebellion as Hebrews 10 and Isaiah 53 explain. Let's continue the metaphor.
Blood is like Love.
It was Love that compelled Christ to die on a cross and shed His blood to cover our sins. For the "joy set before Him, He endured."
Emotionally, our hearts need Love just as physically our hearts need blood.
Imagine if our heart tried to pump water ... it would be a disaster! Our body can't process straight water! Water is a primary element of blood however and most inseparable.
Blood without Water is a scab.Love without Truth is equally non-functional.
Now that I've made my case for "Blood like Love" and "Truth like Water," let me answer the original question:
Why does it matter?
Our hearts cannot pump water. In the same way, we as human beings can only handle so much truth at a time and only in certain ways.
When the judgmental "informers of sin" blast us with cold truth, our emotional response is much like a slumbering teenager awakened by a pummeling firehose: the message is understood, our minds are alert, and our emotions are reeling.
This is how many people categorize Christians.
That makes me sad.
As Christians, Jesus calls us to be known known by our love. John 13:34
Separate from the "bludgeons of truth" and the "grace to keep on sinning,"
What does "Truth in Love" actually look like?
First, I return to the metaphor and ask "what is the function of Blood?"
The function of Blood is to bring Oxygen to the body. Oxygen enables the body to move and also allows the mind to think. For this metaphor, Oxygen represents "soluble" truth that we are able to absorb, process and integrate into our mental decision making framework.
Have you ever had sinus infection? Allergies? Asthma? Or taken ballet class in a small, unventilated room to the torment of anaerobic soreness the next day? (Never forgetting that one...)
If you've ever worked through muscles sore from lactic acid or struggled to think through the dullness of mind that comes from lack of good breath, you know your physical need for Oxygen.
Without a deep understanding of truth in our hearts, we experience the same things emotionally.
Soreness of trying to do the right thing the wrong way.
I grew up in the church. I grew up in a home where I thought "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them" was a quote my mom made up.
In my early life, I learned more about God's Unchanging Truth than His Unconditional Love. As a family, that was what we knew.
As a young person, I took responsibility for my own relationship with God. Despite living in guilt 24/7 and severe "should I do this/should I not/what's the will of the LORD" paranoia, He saw my wounded heart earnestly seeking Him.
He honored it.
And He began revealing Himself to me.
Little by little, truth was placed in the context of grace, commands for obedience in the context of care, and I discovered His Love while living His Scripture.
Some principles required years of wrestling before my heart could process them. When understanding finally came, changes took place in the subconscious, foundational beliefs of my mind.
Not to say I'm finished, but I am on the road to wholeness. My innate, auto-responses are permanently changing for the better. I am renewed.
Oftentimes, God will orchestrate a situation for the very purpose of revealing His Truth in Love; Situational "Story-Pictures" my heart can understand.
Let me leave you with a beautiful one straight from Him.
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call meTeacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
My purpose is to share the Truth in Love He has given me, even as I thirst for more.
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing."
"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."