Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:15,16).
In a society where tolerance is a virtue and offending a person is a crime, telling the truth at times can be tough. And, like it or not, our society’s “morality” has influenced the church’s reaction to the truth. How can we know this? Take this passage from Ephesians 4, for example. Ninety-nine percent of the time when this verse is quoted it is quoted because someone ruffled someone else’s feathers. The expression, “in love,” is taken to mean, “without offense,” in spite of the teachings of this passage. Knowing this passage and understanding its implications are essential to understanding how we are to love one another in the Church.
1. Understand the Goal of the Truth
Paul’s instruction to speak the truth in love is not a call to hold hands and sing Kumbaya. The instruction has a very particular end, namely, to grow up the Church in every way into Christ who is the head. In other words, the instruction does not have an individual objective but a corporate one–unity of the Church under the Lordship of Christ. Therefore, our objective for speaking the truth in love should always be Church-centered. The reverse is true as well; if we are Church-centered people, we should speak the truth in love.
2. Dare to Speak the Truth
Like a physician who would be deemed negligent and hateful for withholding a bitter cure for a terminal disease from an infected person, so should we be deemed negligent and hateful when we refuse to speak the truth. The only remedy that we possess for the heterodoxy and sacrilege that has infiltrated our churches is to persistently apply the truth of God’s Word. We must dare to speak the truth, because when we do, we will be singled out dissenters and as haters of the unity of the Church. People will talk behind our backs, and people who we once thought were our friends will turn against us. But we must persist, because unity that is based upon falsehood and heterodoxy is a not unity from Christ, but it is the appearance of unity from the devil.
3. Dare to Love
Every instance of speaking the truth should be imbued with love. If we do not weep for those to whom we speak the truth, we have no business speaking it. The truth is never a tool for personal gain, and it is never ended by an “I told you so.” Before we ever open our mouths, we need to make sure that, one, our ultimate goal is the sanctification of the Church and, two, that we actually know the truth. These two things coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit are sufficient to cure all the ailments of the Church.