Love and Truth: A Delicate, Necessary Balance
Hello everyone! It has been a busy few weeks for me! I have had book signings back to back here in Oklahoma and I love it! Happy Fall to everyone!
Today’s topic is a tricky one. We hear a lot about truth these days and we hear a lot about love. What we don’t hear is that love and truth must go hand in hand. At times, love with truth will not always be easy to hear but quite necessary for a person to live in freedom and to heal. Sometimes people perceive honest, kind, truth-telling in love as judging them or their actions. I can assure you, at least for me, if I am telling you the truth and I am doing it lovingly, I am doing this because it will save your life or set you free. I could care less what you have done in your past. I am concerned with your now and the condition of your heart. I do not want to see you in the same place you are now 20 years from now – that is not very loving, and it certainly isn’t being a friend.
Love and truth, a delicate, necessary balance indeed. When we love and tell the truth, we must be aware of our motives. Are our motives to help a person or are they to be “right” about a situation or issue? I’ve been on the “right” side of this motive and it didn’t work out so well. People will be aware of when you just want to be “right.” They usually know when you don’t care about them. This is not to say that there haven’t been times I’ve had the right motives and the person simply did not want to hear truth – there will be people who do not want to hear truth, even in love. You must release those people and let them go about their own lives and deal with their own consequences. We can’t save or fix people and we certainly can’t help anyone who does not want to know the truth about what they are believing or doing to themselves.
I also want to say that not everyone telling the truth and screaming at people is doing so in love. Truth without love is simply law and empty of any power to change anyone. And some espousing truth, aren’t telling the truth at all – they are telling a version of it mixed with lies – and they are screaming too which adds to the confusion we see in our world today. Here’s something to remember, anyone that is screaming about something and wants to be heard above anyone and anything else and at the cost of everyone else, is probably not up to something good.
Before I go further, I have a few things to say about truth. I have been chewing, processing, and praying about these statements and I do believe them to be true statements. God’s wisdom in these statements is always so much better than ours. I gleaned these things from our pastor who himself got them from a retreat he attended in Colorado this past week:
1) “Love is not a substitute for truth.”
Note this does not say truth is greater that love or love is greater than truth. It simply says one does not substitute for the other, they are both required to be loving and truthful.
2) “You don’t have the right to impose truth on anyone, but you also don’t have the right to reject it for them or conceal it from them or for them either.”
I’m not going to ram Jesus down anyone’s throat. That is not His way no mine. If you don’t want to hear what I have to say, I am okay with that. I believe in the power of choice when it comes to such things. However, I’m also not going to not tell you the truth to help you continue to do hurtful things to others or yourself or live in non-reality. I will not keep the truth from you if I know it will set you free nor will I conceal the truth from others about a situation for you because you don’t want to deal with something. I added “conceal it for them” because this is very important as well. Timing is of course everything when it comes to truth telling and how we tell it and when. If it’s not the right time, I don’t speak. If it’s the right time, I speak. If it’s past the right time, I’m going to speak to help a person correct their course. What another person does with truth is up to them and I will respect that.
3) “Jesus is the blessed balance of both grace and truth.”
Jesus is the model I follow. I don’t follow any other model. If truth, with love and grace were good enough for Him, they are good enough for me. He was not afraid to stir things up nor was he afraid to upset people. He did not do this to harm them, he did this to set them free if that is what they wanted. As we read the gospels, we see not all people wanted to hear or listen to what Jesus is saying. I know not all people want to hear what I have to say either and just like that was okay with Him, that is okay with me. It broke his heart as it breaks mine, but it did not deter Him from his purpose, and it won’t deter me from mine. As I mentioned before, truth with love may not always be pleasant for the hearer and I can guarantee you if I have to say something hard to anyone, it won’t be pleasant for me either but it is necessary for their freedom or even their life. It is necessary for me to say because I want to walk in grace, truth, love, humility and integrity. I won’t do this in front of a room full of people but in a place where only the person who needs to hear it, hears it. I won’t do this on social media. I will also only do this if the person knows me and knows my heart. We must develop a relationship with people before we can speak into their lives. And fair warning, even when you do all these things right sometimes, the truth and your love and grace will be rejected. You will have to be okay with this and move on in what Jesus has for you. You will have to leave that person to Jesus. I had to do this recently, it wasn’t fun, and it hurt my heart, but it was necessary. I also want to point out that sometimes you won’t be able to even speak truth with love to someone because they will not hear you. You are whistling in the wind so to speak or would be throwing pearls before swine as the Bible says. When you can’t approach someone or you know to do so would be futile, you leave them to Jesus and keep them before Him in prayer. Only he can deal with the deep issues of the heart. If it is a particularly difficult situation and they aren’t a safe person or choose not to be around you, respect their decision and you keep yourself safe and stay away. We are not responsible for anyone’s behavior, thoughts, feelings or beliefs but our own.
In closing, I will walk in truth, love, grace, humility and integrity. This will rub some people the wrong way and that is okay. I want them to be free, not victims to their own mindsets and hurts. If they choose victimhood, that is their choice. I can pray for them. If they want to be around me that is fine, if they don’t, that is fine. My identity and peace aren’t wrapped up in whether they like me or not. My identity and peace are wrapped up in the One who walks perfectly in truth, love, grace, humility and integrity. It doesn’t get better than that. I want to invite people to know the One I know. I want them to be free if they want freedom and I want them to choose freedom, freely. I want them to choose love and truth. Jesus nor I will force that upon them. Choice is integral here and will the subject of a follow up blog on love and choice so stay connected! I encourage all of you to look at the way Jesus walked these things out. He is our best example. He is our only example. If you don’t know him, in Him, and only in Him, will you find everything you are looking for. If you do know him, let him lead your in love and truth so that you can be love and truth to others.
1 Corinthians 13:6 ESV; Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. With love and truth, Elizabeth