I am a recovering “people pleaser.” For years, the gage for personal satisfaction was based on my relationship with others. In most cases, I was considered an all-around nice guy. It was important for me to be popular at home, at work, as a youth sports’ coach, at the grocery store and wherever else I went. My reality of personal truth and subsequent speech passed through my pleasing-others filter. For years, with a wife and two daughters (three strong women…😊), I felt my job was to keep peace. So, my words were an attempt to console. Frequently, this led me to not support my wife’s stronger views of discipline. Why? I prioritized my daughter’s approval. “Hey Rick, not exactly how God says a man should act,” you may be thinking. And, you are right! For years I based relationships and speech on fear rather than on God’s word.
God through Paul the Apostle describes how to speak to one another in Ephesians 4:15, “speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Let’s pull the pieces of this verse apart so that we can get to its full meaning.
- “Speak the truth.” Truth is fundamental and all powerful in relationships and in the spiritual world. Let’s make sure that we have a clear definition of what truth is not and what it is. Truth is not based on your reality and what’s best for you. In this scenario truth becomes relative and self-centered. It is not that at all. The bible speaks clearly on this in John 17:17, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Doesn’t get any clearer than that. The truth is God’s word. Speak the truth based on scripture to one another; then, your relationships become rock solid. Never forget this. The one word that terrifies the devil is “truth.” Why? Because he has been selfish from the beginning and has propagated a “truth-based-on-me reality.” He cannot handle truth founded on God’s Word.
- “In love.” Speak the truth in the sphere of agape love, the love of Jesus. There are 15 characteristics of agape love shown in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres). I encourage you to commit these characteristics to memory recognizing that this will take some work. What two of these are you the weakest? Work with the Lord to make these a reality in your behavior. Select a weekly accountability partner who will hold you to this. Once these become a habit, your character will look more like Jesus. Then, tackle two more!
- “We will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him.” If you and the folks around you base your speech to one another on the 15 characteristics above, you will grow and mature looking like Jesus whether it is your marriage, your family, your Life Group, your recovery group or your fellow employees. Will it all happen at once? No, it may take time. Looking back on your life you will be grateful.
Speak the truth in love