"...speaking the truth in love..."
Notice the "dot, dot, dot," before and after that phrase? But how many times have you heard it as a full sentence? Speak the Truth in love. As a full sentence, it loses all context. And how often is this phrase used as an excuse to reprimand another "in love" and tell them about their multitude of sins?
The New Living Translation has a completely different take on this phrase. It states, "we will hold to the truth in love." Now, that changes it a bit, doesn't it? That makes the action about me and not about me acting on another.
In context, Ephesians 4 is talking about the Body of Christ and how we must work to grow up and mature in the Lord. "Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe..." The work is for each of us to grow up and cling to the Lord's love.
And what Truth are we clinging to? It is the truth that we are deeply loved by God. A professor once told me that it was the mature and strong believers that knew this truth in the depths of their being and knew that they were deeply loved regardless of their behavior or failings.
Take Romans 14 as an example. Some believers are considered weak (immature), while others are considered strong (mature in faith). The believers that believe it is okay to eat anything (anything is permissible) are considered strong. While the believer that, "has a sensitive conscience," is considered "weak in faith." Wow.
Move this into the context of today. Which believers believe that eating anything is okay? Which believers are considered too liberal or too progressive? Which believers know deeply that they are loved and work to love others--without a sensitive conscience? Perhaps they are the strong in faith.
And which believers have stated that their holy ears cannot hear cussing? Cannot be around "sinners" because of their perceived holiness? Will not welcome certain individuals into their sanctuary? Perhaps these are the believers that, thinking themselves strong, Jesus would call "of little faith."
And if you're about to speak the Truth in love to another? As a reprimand? Don't. Cling to the truth that God loves you deeply. Regardless of your behavior or present company.
How are you thinking about this today?
How's your conscience?