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Speaking The Truth In Love


REBUKE - What do you think of when you hear this word that the Bible uses for bringing truth to where change is needed?

If I called you one night and said that I would like to come over the next morning and rebuke you, how would you respond? Would you run to a friend and say, “The most wonderful thing is going to happen to me tomorrow? My pastor is coming over to rebuke me. I can’t wait! It has been so long since I’ve been rebuked.”

That would not likely be your reaction. Many of us would rather go to the dentist and have our teeth drilled without Novocaine!

Last Sunday morning from our “Summer Sunday School Smorgasbord”, we learned about speaking the truth in love from Ephesians 4:15. (Please check out the classes that are coming up at our information desk in the foyer. Classes are at 9:00 a.m. and will run through July.)

From last Sunday’s class we learned several steps in biblical confrontation:

First, Biblical confrontation means starting with your own heart.

Our natural tendency when we prepare to confront someone, is to defend our position, prepare well with several bible verses, pray for a teachable spirit in the other person and pray for wisdom to be able to make your point clearly and convincingly.

Instead, begin by asking yourself and the Lord, “How will my sinful tendencies become a stumbling block in this confrontation? Are there thoughts, motives, or attitudes of bitterness, anger, vengeance, pride, judgmentalism, or personal bias that will get in the way of what God intends to do here? Is my own sinful heart going to short-circuit the God-honoring encounter He would have this be?”

As part of this step, when you have honestly assessed your own sinful tendencies, pray and actually prepare for the time when you WILL become irritated or angry or self-righteous, or impatient with this person’s response, and confess your need for God’s grace, that your speech “would be seasoned with salt, so that you would know how to respond to this person.” (Colossians 4:6)

Remember, God has ordained this person; whether a spouse, a child, a friend, co-worker, church brother or sister - to be in your life! It is NOT a sign of God’s inattention to you or lack of regard or concern for you; on the contrary, it is BECAUSE of His covenant keeping care for you that this person is placed in front of you. Jesus Christ is working on everyone involved in this encounter, including YOU. We need to humbly acknowledge the ways God is using this person to expose the areas in which YOU need to grow. Embrace the fact that God can transform the heart of this other person without neglecting you in the process. Isn’t that incredible?

Another important step in confrontation is that the most important encounter is not the person’s encounter with you, but with Christ. Rebuke does not force a person to face your judgment, but it gives him an opportunity to do business with God.

When we are talking about “speaking the truth in love” we must always be gospel saturated. The call of the gospel is for us to recognize our sinfulness, humbly and willingly confess it, offer and receive forgiveness, and move towards restoration of fellowship, committed to mutual accountability, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:13)

"The truth must not be used as a club to bludgeon people into acceptance and obedience but must always be presented in love. The truth leads the Christian to maturity, which is defined here as growing up into Christ. As head, Christ leads, directs, and guides the body (see Ephesians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 11:3).”   (from ESVSB notes on Ephesians 4:15)

For a more in depth reading on this subject here is the link to an excellent downloadable pdf article called “Speaking Redemptively” by Paul David Tripp as he comments on Galatians 5:13-6:2.

Pastor Dan Huff