“But, speaking the truth in love…” is a well known passage from Ephesians (4: 15). Paul is encouraging the congregation at Ephesus to build each other up in the faith, and to not forget to tell each other the truth…in love. We love to quote that scripture when someone says something to us that is both truthful and hurtful.
Pastor Sonny Misar preached recently at our church and he used this powerful analogy. He said, “Some relationships are like a rope bridge, others are like a wooden bridge, and some are like interstate bridges made up of I beams and concrete. You might drive a bicycle over a wooden bridge, but never a semi-truck. Be careful the size of truth you drive over someone’s bridge. If you only have a rope bridge relationship, and you try and drive a semi-truck of truth over it, you will destroy the bridge (relationship)”.
That was as direct and succinct as I have ever heard it said.
Dr. Frank Harvey taught me two principles relating to this matter. The first, “Tact is stepping on someone’s shoes without messing up their shine”! I like that one. I have reminded myself of it many times before I had to say something hard to someone. The second one is even more important. He said, “Don’t confront someone until it hurts YOU more than it is going to hurt THEM”! Wow, that is powerful. Imagine how much love someone might feel if they noticed how bad you were hurting as you were speaking a hard truth to them?
People who are confrontational get a bad rap. We, (yes I am one of those people that is very confrontational), are looked at as mean because we will say the hard things. But, what about so called “friends” that won’t tell you the truth? Aren’t they just as worthy of scrutiny? What kind of friend lets you walk around with your zipper down all day or the price tag still on your dress? Once, I saw a woman wearing the plastic strip that comes on new jeans that tells you the size of the jeans (it wasn’t a small size). Most women don’t want the size of their clothes broadcast to everyone by wearing it around all day. She needed a friend willing to say, “your size is showing”!
True friends venture out on the bridge and take the risk to tell those that we love, what they cannot see.
We must speak the truth. If you won’t tell the people you love the truth, you leave it up to their enemies to tell them. And trust me, they will. But, we must do it with love, in a way that causes the relationship to get stronger. It is more important to be in relationship than it is to be right.
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