“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”
Ephesians 4:15 NLT
Truth. In John 18, we read that Jesus came before Pilate and the subject of truth came up. We read, “Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked….”“. Pilate expressed, perhaps cynically, the uncertainty of “truth” from a human perspective. Absolute truth is a quality that eludes us, because we don’t have access to absolutes. For example, a witness in a court case promises to say “the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. But what he says is only his perspective of the truth, based on his observations at the time the crime, was committed. Dictionaries don’t help much either – one definition of “truth” is “the quality or state of being true”.
In John 14:6, Jesus said He is the truth. We read, “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Only Jesus is the absolute truth. What He said was true. True then and just as true today. And this gives a baseline of truth, against which all other “truths” can be compared.
So what was Paul meaning when he said, “we will speak the truth in love”. The previous verse in Ephesians 4 mentions the danger of lies appearing to be so convincing that they could be interpreted as truth. And the previous verse to that highlights the opportunity we have to grow in our knowledge of Jesus, a theme also in our verse today. The reality is that the closer we get to Jesus, the closer we will get to the truth. Truth becomes accessible to us, and this is a powerful place to be. Paul then cautions us to only speak the truth in a spirit of love. Earlier in chapter 4 of Ephesians, Paul encourages us to always to “be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love“. And from that perspective, with a humble and gentle love that seeks the other person’s highest good, we can deliver difficult truths to help the other person to grow “in every way more and more like Christ”.
So how does the pilgrim today speak out truths in love? We are all on our journeys through life; all at different stages. And one quality we must have is our love for fellow pilgrims. Then we can meet the criteria to say to someone, who is perhaps further behind on their journey, what they should, or shouldn’t, do. For example, someone who is engaging in some form of sinful activity would perhaps be helped by a fellow Christian lovingly pointing out the error of their ways. And we must also be aware that we too can be corrected in a similar way. But over it all, there must be a bridge of love, a relational bridge, over which we can walk with the other person, walking into truth together. Jesus said He was the Truth. He is the Truth. And as we grow to be more like Him, we too can perhaps get a glimpse of His loving truth as it works through our lives.