I know we’ve all been there.
Where we’ve worried about someone. Felt disconcerted about some choices they were making.
And we wrestled with whether we should say something.
Wondering if we shared our concerns whether they might become offended, defensive, or argumentative.
Afraid we might be perceived as being unkind, critical or judgmental. Worried that our relationship might suffer.
And really, is it any of our business what someone else does? Especially when we are struggling with so many of our own issues and problems?
So we hesitate.
And remain silent.
Yet, we are called to a higher standard of love.
Where spaces are cracked opened for a generous and compassionate truth to enter.
Where love runs so deeply and steadfastly, a freedom is created for heart and soul transformation.
The apostle Paul wrote that it will be through, ”… speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15, NIV)
The challenge is clear. We are called to courageously rise. And invest in the transformative power of truth, spoken in love and grace.
Such transparency opens the door to new insights, and ultimately growth in wisdom and maturity (Proverbs 4). Because the moment we become able to see, and to confront our blind spots, it becomes possible for us to grow.
So when we notice that something has gone sideways, we are called to lovingly speak the truth. But always a truth that walks hand in hand with a generous grace, gentleness, patience, respect. And with an abundant love.
And of course, the flip side of being called to speak the truth – is that we are also called to hear the truth.
Being willing to listen; to hear with a genuine receptivity and humility. Having open ears and hearts to what has been placed on another’s heart. Being willing to hear a different perspective.
This call to mutual accountability – to speak and to hear the truth – is evidenced throughout Scripture.
In 2 Samuel 12 we observe Nathan lovingly and courageously rebuking his friend, King David, about his adulterous behaviour with Bathsheba and facilitating the death of her husband Uriah. And because David was willing to listen to Nathan’s rebuke, we see him being transformed.
Or when Paul challenged Peter about his insistence that the Gentiles undergo circumcision in order to become Christians (Galatians 2:11-13). Or where Jesus lovingly admonished Martha because she was complaining about her sister, Mary (Luke 7:36-50).
We witness in these, and so many other Scriptural examples, narratives where people so deeply cared about someone else’s wellbeing they bravely approached them about their concerns.
They were willing to lean in. With hearts motivated by the desire to protect, guide, teach, mentor, counsel and encourage another to live in more worthy ways (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
And where, because the recipients were receptive to hearing the truth, the possibility of transformation was given birth.
Yet, there is no doubt that offering feedback or rebukes can be risky. Because there is no way to know exactly how the recipient may choose to respond.
They might be tempted to defend, rationalize or justify a misguided behaviour. They may become hurt or angry.
Or, they may be appreciative. Grateful for the invitation to consider an alternative perspective.
But regardless, we are called to both give and to receive the truth. To desire the very best for one another.
Always remembering to choose our words carefully. Ensuring they have the potential to edify, encourage, strengthen (2 Timothy 4:2 and Ephesians 4:29).
Because we know that just as iron sharpens iron, so one person has the power to sharpen another (Proverbs 27:17).
Creating the fertile spaces necessary for personal growth.
That transforms us into people who have the courage and resiliency to walk in truth, and into the transformative power of honesty and love and grace.
Photo Credit: Deva Darshan, Kinga Cichewicz, Khachik Simonian, Valerie Elash, from Unsplash