Speaking the truth can prove daunting. It’s often easier to modify what we say to save ourselves and others embarrassment. Working as I’ve done for many years with people from diverse international backgrounds, I’ve discovered a lot about how we Brits are perceived.
With all our courteous language, our ‘pleases’ and ‘thank yous’, we are often seen as difficult to understand. Remember the old Western movies where the phrase, ‘White man speaks with forked tongue’ would occur? That’s how we are often understood by others who tend to be more direct in their speech.
At the same time, I do not want to use the truth to cause someone else to lose face and feel awkward. I want them to benefit from what I am saying, and they can’t do that if in some way I shame them or subsequently it is clear I was economical with the truth I shared with them. Jesus is always straightforward with us, as Peter discovered. We must learn to speak with an honesty that doesn’t deliver offence, even though another may take offence. For the truth can give an offence for which we make no apology.
There is an essential relationship between truth and honesty. A clarity must exist in what I am saying and why I am saying it. Without this, what I say can merely be an expression of my momentary emotions or current mood. These I am responsible for managing so that I don’t unnecessarily offload my unresolved inner angst onto someone else.
An awful lot of our conversation is driven from the subterranean depths of our emotions and psychological state of being. When honest with ourselves, we’d acknowledge that such filters lead to a misrepresentation of the truth we wish to express.
Truth-telling lays the foundation for trust-building. Trust is the fruit born of honesty and therefore the mortar that holds all of our relationships together.
How well are you doing at speaking the truth?
“Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth” (Psalm 86:11a, NLT).