“Human love has little regard for the truth. It makes the truth relative, since nothing . . . must come between it and the beloved person.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I sat working on a client’s nails one afternoon as she recounted her recent separation from her husband, Gary. “We’ve just . . . grown apart. Gary’s moving down south. He met a wonderful Christian woman and he’s so happy.”
Then she launched into a description of a man she’d begun to date. “And Stan–we’ve been dating ’bout a month–he’s so sweet!” She shook her head and smiled, “God’s really in it, He’s just blessing us . . . “
My slow, gentle strokes with the nail file belied the wrestling match in my mind. She claimed to be a Christian and was therefore accountable to what Scripture taught about marriage. How can she imagine her choices are ok–even blessed by God? I kept my head down and continued to work. Should I say something? My stomach lurched. She was a friend, as well as a client. The dilemma tumbled in my mind as she continued to peddle the perks of her choices.
Well, I hate to admit it, but I didn’t speak up–and failed to share a potentially marriage preserving truth.
I’ll bet you’ve been there, too. You know, that awkward, brick-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach place? Someone says something that isn’t quite true, does something that isn’t quite right. . . . So you squirm, keep your head down, and groan under the weight of the truth thumping in your heart. And like me, you wonder,
Should I say something?
That’s a great question. A hard one. Last week we discovered, “Why speak truth to one another?” Today we’re exploring, “When should we speak up?”
So, when should we “speak the truth in love” to a fellow Christian?
1) When truth is at stake
When a professing Christian’s words or actions contradict what Scripture clearly teaches. (For an example see Matthew 15:1-14)
” . . . guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and . . . what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and . . . departed from the faith.”†
2) When God’s honor is at stake
When a professing Christian’s words or actions misrepresent God’s name or nature to others. (For an example see II Samuel 12:1-10)
“You are . . proud of knowing God’s laws, but you dishonor him by breaking them . . . the world speaks evil of God because of you.”†
3) When the welfare of others is at stake
When a professing Christian’s words or actions mislead or tear down God’s people. (For an example see Galatians 2:11-14)
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”†
Still not sure if you should approach that person? Well, I’ve learned when NOT to share, such as when emotion is leading me instead of God’s Spirit, or my motives are compromised. For example:
Is what I want to say my opinion, instead of clear Biblical truth?
Am I tempted to use truth to “teach him/her a lesson”?
Am I sharing out of hurt or anger?
Does the prospect of sharing truth with him/her feel good–at all?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then you’re probably not the right person for the job. The truth God wants us to speak is an invitation, not a battering ram.
Still not sure?
Then, let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. Here’s a sure-fire way I know when God’s calling me to share the truth with another Christian:
When I’d rather do anything else. When my heart pounds with dread at the mere thought of it.
When God’s call to share His truth stalks me like a heat seeking missile; singles me out in sermons; serenades me on the radio . . .
When I cannot escape it.
Now, I can’t tell you if you should share truth with that person. All I can encourage you to do is listen to God, examine your motives, and then obey His call–to speak or not to speak.
What about you? How do you know when God is calling you to share truth with another Christian?
Stay tuned: Next week we will look at “How Can We Share Truth in Love.”
Photos courtesy of Crestock.com