Climbing mounting Mt. Everest. Going through a divorce. Losing a child to death. Growing old. None of these compare in the nature of their experience. What they have in common is that they are all extremely difficult. People often converse about the difficult things they have gone through in life. There is one that people would never add to this list and yet in my opinion and experience, may be the most difficult of all! Most people fail at it. If I tell you what I believe the most difficult thing for people to learn and do is, you might laugh or think I’m crazy but I’ll take the risk. It’s to learn to tell the truth all the time. You may think, “I always tell the truth.” I’m sorry but that probably isn’t true. Most people don’t. Pay close attention to everything that comes out your mouth for one day and you may agree that I’m right.
Most people are afraid to tell the truth. Some for obvious reasons – they fear the consequences if people find out the truth of their thoughts or actions. But even beyond that there is a whole lot of lying going on. People shade the truth constantly. They are afraid to tell the truth about what they mean, feel, or think, and in most cases it’s because they are afraid of how the person that they lie to would respond if they told the truth. A person that is offended at another person will often dance around the truth about things that are bothering them. But, then they will go tell the truth of how they feel to the rest of the world.
People lie to better their position. People lie to impress others. People lie to protect the feelings of others. People lie because they don’t know how to say what they feel. People are afraid to lovingly confront the person they are having a problem with. They don’t know how it will turn out and are afraid of the outcome or they just don’t want to put up with the hassle of conflict by telling the truth. Because people don’t want to tell the truth for fear of conflict, they leave many things unresolved. Unresolved conflicts almost always lead to bitterness setting in, inappropriate eruptions of the same conflicts later, and much behind-the-back slander and gossip. Think I’m wrong? Just pay attention to your mouth for a while and see for yourself.
I have the blessing of working for a man that is truly one of the most honest men I have ever known. When I talk to him, I’m not wondering if what he says is what he means. He says what he means but in a spirit of love. I appreciate it because I always know where I stand with him. On the same token, because he is honest, some of the things he has said over the years have taken the form of correction in my life. Sometimes the truth hurts. That’s okay though because I know he loves me and has my best interest at heart. Proverbs 15:32 affirms this truth saying, “He who refuses and ignores instruction and correction despises himself, but he who heeds reproof gets understanding.” I’ve learned that even though truth may be painful to hear, it usually helps me to grow. Lies to protect my feelings from being hurt, hide the things I need to know and grow in. His example has been powerful to me and has helped me to have a much greater appreciation for being consistently truthful.
There are many things the Lord says to me. He always speaks truth to me in love and I know His voice because it’s gentle yet straight forward. People often say they have a hard time telling the difference between God’s voice and the devil’s. First of all, God speaks to your spirit. It may be firm. It will always be honest. It will always line up with the Word of God, but it will never be cruel or mean. The devil speaks only to your mind. He can’t read your mind. He just watches what you say and do and responds with words of condemnation, guilt, hurt and worse. What he says makes you want to give up. What God says makes you want to try harder, experience more of His love, and draw closer to Him.
That then becomes one of the keys to speaking the truth in love. Don’t sound like the devil and work to discourage or beat up other up with truth. Work to speak truth in love. Even then some people won’t always listen. They didn’t always listen to Jesus. They won’t always listen to you. But, make sure you aren’t using truth as an excuse to be rude or “just tell it is!” Please don’t give me the “I’m just a blunt person and tell it like it is!” No, you are a rude person and haven’t learned to speak the truth in love if you just vomit words from your mouth without thinking about how to say them to others. If you can’t keep your emotions in check, you’ll never become one that learns to speak truth in conflict. If you provoke the one you are talking to, again you will never learn to succeed and value being truthful. Think about the person you are dealing with. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand their perspective. Then try to help them understand yours. Be calm. Be patient. Try to pick a good time – not a hallway meeting and not in the middle of an inflamed conflict.
There are many hard things to learn to do in this world but I truly believe that speaking the truth in love is one of the hardest. If you were to take the challenge today of making every word you speak – kind, honest, and truthful, you’d feel this challenge. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we could never accomplish this. Eph 4:15 (NIV) says “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” When we learn to speak the truth in love, with someones best interest at heart; it will help us to grow up and mature in Christ. They may be nothing harder to do or more valuable in the big picture!
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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