From the way most people interact with others, one might get the
idea that a policy of
what they don’t know won’t hurt them
is the best way to go. I’ve read numerous articles that attempt
to convince me that telling lies to the people I love can actually
be a blessing to them, shielding them from painful truths.
From the way most people interact with others, one might get the idea that a policy of “what they don’t know won’t hurt them” is the best way to go. I’ve read numerous articles that attempt to convince me that telling lies to the people I love can actually be a blessing to them, shielding them from painful truths.
Contrast that with what God says in passages like Ephesians 4:15, where He tells us to, “Let our lives lovingly express the truth in all things – speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly.” In reality, all quality relationships are based on honesty, and we need to understand what God means when He says we are to “express the truth in all things.”
Which is not to say that we are to be indiscriminate in what we tell people, when we tell them or how we tell them. As Proverbs 29:20 reminds us, “There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking. ”
Let’s consider three aspects of telling the truth in a way that honors God:
n First, we must tell the truth completely. Since lying is an attempt to mislead, we can lie without even saying a word: We can do it by simply concealing the truth. But as Proverbs 10:10 reminds us, “Someone who holds back the truth causes trouble.”
Some of us are in relationships where we are holding back the truth from our mate, and we’re getting our relationship into all sorts of trouble. If you think that by ignoring the problem it will go away, think again.
In one team I participate in, we use the phrase, “speaking the last 10 percent.” Many of us, even when we get the courage to confront someone, will stop short of telling them the bottom line truth they need to hear. Consider Proverbs 28:23, “In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery.” Although you may not appreciate the truth at the time it is told, in the end you will be glad for it. In all your relationships, make a commitment to tell the truth completely.
n A second way we must tell the truth is consistently. Don’t forget the moral of the story, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” When someone tells us the truth some of the time, we have trouble believing them any of the time. Proverbs 11:3 has wisdom for all of us: “People who can’t be trusted are destroyed by their own dishonesty.”
Why are people destroyed by dishonesty? Because no one has a good enough memory to remember the who, what, when, where and why of every lie. Quality relationships are built on trust, so tell the truth completely and consistently.
n Being honest, however, does not mean being brutal, so a third step in expressing the truth in all things is to tell the truth lovingly. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to, “Speak the truth in a spirit of love.” In other words, don’t use the truth as a club.
Try an experiment with me: Think of someone you would like to see changes in. Right now, get a picture of that person in your mind. While you have them in your thoughts, realize that this person will change more easily and quickly when you speak the truth in love to them.
When you present truth to someone without a loving spirit, it is always perceived as an attack. It doesn’t matter whether what you say is true or not, it will always cause the person to feel threatened, and they will strongly resist it.
So, how can you know if you are telling the truth lovingly? Simply by answering this question: “Who am I trying to benefit with this truth?” If the answer is “me” (which it usually is!), then you are not presenting the truth with the proper motivation. “Speak only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” ( Ephesians 4:29).
You may have the greatest truth in the world to share with someone, but if you do it without love, you may as well be a clanging cymbal. Tell the truth completely and consistently, but be sure it is always told lovingly as well.
Henry Harris is Lead Pastor of Rolling Hills Community Church, 330 Tres Pinos Road in Hollister. If you have questions or comments, please visit the church’s Web site at www.rollinghillsfamily.com, e-mail [email protected] or call (831) 636-5353.