Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Very Important Ingredient for Church Growth: SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE

I came to realize recently how "speaking the truth in love" is so important and how it has been used, misused, and most often than not, neglected by families (in blood and even in Christ) causing disunity, hatred and bitterness. Someone I know never spoke to her relative again after this relative said a metaphoric, ambiguous line she did not really understand. She didn't dare confront her relative nor clarify the meaning of what he meant. What she did instead was to rely on her own understanding and this nurtured the bitterness that silently crept through her veins.

When we were discussing the importance of "speaking the truth in love" last night, one person shared "Well, I told the person that he's annoying. I guess I've already spoken the truth, and this is better than not telling the truth at all." The question is, is your "truth" really true?

Speaking the truth in love is a very, very, very important ingredient in building the body of Christ. Take it from Paul in Ephesians 4:

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."

What does "Speaking the truth in love" mean? What is the "truth"? The only Truth, with a capital T, is one that is infallible and one that is God-breathed. It is not derived from the limited capabilities of our forefathers or the geniuses of the present time. The truth can NOT be based on the biases or mere feelings and thoughts. This will only result to several subjective truths as they vary from one person to another. The truth that must be spoken of comes from the Bible. This is the sword that is used to teach, correct, rebuke and train others in righteousness.

In order to "speak the truth in love," one must not use the truth as a club to bludgeon people into acceptance and obedience. It must always be presented in love. The truth leads Christian to maturity, which is defined here as "grow up into him who is the Head." As head, Christ leads, directs, and guides the body.

Love is a very important aspect in speaking the truth. If we do not love, we cannot speak the truth effectively, and therefore we cannot grow and build each other up in Christ. I've found a sort of like a "formula" in the Bible for love. Flip your Bible open and go to 2 Peter 1.

Peter says that you must make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It says here that LOVE should be attained once we possess all the other qualities in increasing measure. It starts when God illumines us (allows us understand His Word) and gives us the gift of faith in Christ. Through this we have salvation, an abundant life and a changed self. However, we should not be contented with being saved and doing nothing. We should make every effort to do good, to study His Word (in order to KNOW the truth), to obey Him, to persevere in living a sanctified life, to be kind as we keep the unity of the family and last but not the least, to love. The vision of a family must not be limited to teaching (knowledge) or providing financial means to others (goodness), it must always be to LOVE. Love is the reason why we should speak the truth to one another. Love is the reason why we preach the gospel. Love is the reason why Jesus lived and died on the cross. Love.

"Speaking the truth in love" does not mean that we should not say anything that is not nice to people. The Truth can be painful, ergo, for many "ignorance is bliss". An example of this was when Jesus advised a young businessman, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." The guy probably expected a different answer because he went away sad. Probably he even regretted approaching Jesus and asking for what was true. (This shows that building up the body of Christ is a two-way street, there must be (1) spoken truth and (2) obedience. Anyway..)

I can't hardly recall hearing messages in the church that is as fearless and powerful as this recently. I've heard of speakers with very soft messages that fit perfectly to what the "itching ears" are dying to hear. They dwell on "God is good all the time" or "You have been saved through faith" but never on "leave everything and follow Christ." The gospel has become a comfort food to the audience, rather than a call-to-action for God's purpose.

I have also observed that the line between a God-pleasing church and a people-pleasing church is diminishing. The messages and the programs are slowly becoming more people-centered. They felt that if messages are striking or convicting, people tend to leave. Because of this, messages have been softened and mashed, seasoned to fit the taste of the audience. Once the church has become a pure people-pleasing church, once the Truth has been replaced with sugar-coated half-truths, then at this point in time, Satan has already won the battle.

Read your Bible. Know the Truth. Speak the Truth in love. Pray for God's leading. Be bold.
Start now before Satan successfully topples your church.

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