Speaking to the Soul – February 9

Speak the truth

I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. 2 Corinthians 7:8-9

Early on in my ministry, one of the most spiritual and sensitive members of my congregation said to me: “Very little truth is spoken in this church.” I was quite shocked by this statement, and thought a great deal about it.

As I did so, I came to realise that, painfully, she was absolutely right. It was a very happy, growing church, but our relationships were largely superficial. We were all extremely friendly with one another, but we rarely discussed the challenges and tensions that we were facing. We carefully avoided the sharp edges of truth.

However, if we are truly to grow as churches, there needs to be a great deal of honesty and a willingness to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Paul had shared a lot of truth with the Corinthian church and, clearly, his words had hurt them. He now reflects on the letter he wrote and acknowledges that, at first, he was sorry that they had found it so painful. However, he was now glad he had sent it because his strong words helped them to change their ways.

Whenever we have something tough to share with others, we need to do so with a huge amount of prayer, sensitivity and love. It’s not easy to speak words that others might find painful. Even though we may be sure we are right about a situation, we don’t want people to dislike or reject us. Often, we’d rather smile sweetly at them and hope the problem disappears. But the only way we will grow up as Christians and church communities is by speaking the truth in love.

What have you learned from the times when people have spoken the truth in love to you?

Loving Father, help me to grow in my willingness to speak the truth in you