Refusing to Back Down: What it Really Means to Speak the Truth “In Love”

Refusing to Back Down: What it Really Means to Speak the Truth “In Love”

On the heels of yet another heated political debate the tweets, status updates, and blogs are running full steam. I would certainly be no exception to this. On the other hand, though, there are many Christians who feel it is offensive to openly talk about their political views or their beliefs on touchy subjects such as homosexuality and abortion. This proverbial “duct tape” silences many well-meaning believers, especially in the world of writing, where platforms and likeability are ranked high on the author’s list of things to succeed in.

No doubt, this is a controversial topic. To speak or not to speak: that is essentially the question. For me the answer came in the form of another question. Do I care so much about getting “likes”, “follows”, and “subscribers” to build my platform that I keep quiet about such topics? What is more important, speaking the truth or being liked?

I live in a state where people have been arrested for holding Bible studies in their homes. Refusing to allow and even prosecuting such acts of religious expression is becoming more common in today’s world. Am I to look the other way when things like, say, who will become the next president would directly affect issues of religious freedom? I’m not convinced that speaking the truth “in love” or having my words “seasoned with salt” means to keep silent. But let’s look at the Bible– because I am human and maybe I am wrong. If so, I want to allow God to correct me and keep me on His path to truth.

First of all we have Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount. The things Jesus said were highly offensive, especially to the Pharisees who were the most “spiritual” people of that time. They knew how to follow all of the rules and live about as perfect as a sinful person could possibly live. But Jesus wasn’t impressed because He saw their hearts. He called them out on their hypocrisy and warned the crowds of listeners not to be like them. I really can’t think of anything more offensive then calling someone out in front of other people, pointing out their faults, and warning the audience not to be like them! But—Jesus was, well, Jesus! As God living and breathing in a human body, He had the right and lived the life to back up His words of truth. I don’t have that luxury. I’m not perfect, I am not God. I cannot see someone’s heart, so publicly calling someone out is probably not a form of expression God has called me to partake in. (And under this light, I am aware of some instances where I have sinned in this area.)

But then we come to Paul. Now, the Colossian Church had become infiltrated with false teachers, and Paul, led by the Spirit of God, stepped in and spoke up about a controversial topic: false teaching. In this same letter to the church he says, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:6)” Several verses in the Bible have been taken out of context to support erroneous practices, and this is probably no exception. It has been used over and over again as an admonition to keep quiet about important issues. In the context of the passage, however, that is absolutely not what Paul is saying. In fact, in the previous three chapters Paul warns the church about following the philosophies of man and the patterns of the world (2:8) while at the same time pointing the congregation to the Solution to their problems (2:9-3:1). Now that is what it means to speak the truth with love and grace.

The difference between condescending pious gibberish and sincere warning in the nature of love and concern come out of a sincere heart focused on the One who has given abundant life as well as freedom from the bondage of evil entanglements.

So what does all of this mean? As Christians we have a responsibility to speak the truth, to always be ready with an answer for the hope that dwells within us. When I stand up and say why I believe one candidate it a better choice for America, I am doing so out of love for my country and the people in it. I do not want to see our religious rights taken away. I want to be able, for instance, to hold a Bible study in my home without fear of retaliation. If one candidate can provide that, then I am going to talk about it. In the same regard, if one candidate is clearly supportive of the dangerous deception that a “woman’s right to choose” or a woman’s right to kill her baby is more important than the life growing inside that woman, as a Christian I have a moral responsibility to speak up for the unborn who cannot speak for themselves. I haven’t always done this, and I live every day with the regret of my silence and what became of a situation where I refused to speak. Never again will I make that mistake.

I think an important distinction in all of this is the delivery used to convey our messages. Are we saying things like, “If you vote for so and so you’re an evil demon of darkness” or are we saying, “I believe so and so is a better candidate because…” One of these expresses a view with respect and dignity while the other bashes on those who would hold a different opinion. I can’t find any example where Paul put down the character of another believer because of the choices they were making, no matter how poor those choices might have been. Instead, I see a great man of God who desperately wanted people to understand the truth, and understand where the truth comes from—Jesus. Paul always, always, always pointed people to Christ. I know I have failed in this area many times (and I confess it to God), but that is my ultimate goal in all I say and do.

I will not apologize for my views because they stem from personal convictions. On the other hand, I want to keep me speech grace-full, making sure to avoid name-calling and character bashing of those who would disagree with me. In the end, for me, I feel it is more important to be real with people rather than sensor my beliefs in the name of “likeability”. Do I want to be a successful author with a large platform to reach others with the message of Hope? Of course I do! But I will not compromise the truth in the form of silence. This is a critical time for our country, and we cannot afford to exchange silence for popularity. Yes, I want to have integrity in all I say and do, especially in a public outlet. But I also want people to know I am a real person, with real struggles, real opinions, and real convictions. Maybe I’ll lose a few “fans” along the way, but ultimately I will be the only one held accountable for my choices. In that regard, God’s opinion of my words and actions are all that really matters.

How about you? Have you experienced backlash in your efforts to speak the truth in love? How has God used your experiences in approaching touchy subjects to teach you how to speak in a grace-full way? Have you every failed in this area of “seasoned” speech? Do you feel it’s more important to convey a certain public “persona” then it is to convey your personal convictions? I look forward to your responses and hope to learn from what God has taught you through your experiences.

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Confidence

Confidence

“I will speak to kings about your laws, and I will not be ashamed.” Psalm 119:46 NLT

Confidence in the presence of God gives us confidence in the presence of men. When we are confident of whom we are, who Christ has made us, and how he sees us, we will have boldness in the world to speak the truth. The fear of man’s view of us, what we believe and how we choose to live stems from an insecurity in our relationship with Jesus. If we truly understand who he is and how he feels about us, it should spur us on with all assurance.

Psalm 119:43 “Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth.”

Verse 46 is the answer to this request. The truth has not been taken from the Psalmist, but rather validated in his life giving him boldness before rulers.  No doubt the Psalmist knew the promises of God well, and he trusted God in light of that.

Great holiness equals great boldness.

Silence, idle talk, cowardice, and bashfulness are all signs of the one who is ashamed. The Psalmist declares with force, “I will speak.” He has predetermined that he has the word of truth, God has given it to him, and he will speak of it. Indeed, he will not only speak of it rather than remain silent, but he will speak to kings about it! He will not only speak to kings about Gods truth, he will do so boldly and unashamed!

Imagine the opportunities we are given every day to be a bold witness with our lives. When we are living out his will our actions will back up what we speak of. That blameless life gives us confidence before men.

Have you ever been given advice about a situation from someone clearly not heeding their own words? It’s a little difficult to trust that kind of wisdom. I can’t expect my daughter to grow up with healthy eating habits by merely telling her to do so, I have to live it. It’s not going to have much weight if I’m gluttonous every day while telling her she cannot do as I am doing.

If I want people to see Jesus, I need to be a portrait of who he is. It’s more than just words and knowledge.

The fact is people are drawn to actions rather than words. I’m more interested in my daughter obeying me then I am in her telling me she loves me 500 times a day. If you love me, obey me! How interesting that a parent child relationship is mirrored in our relationship with Christ. He also tells us if we love him we need to show it! Stop the talk and start the actions.

The actions will back up our words and give us a holy boldness before men. We can speak of truth and not be ashamed. We can have the word of truth in our mouths and declare it before kings without fear!

So often we avoid speaking because we are afraid to offend someone. Really, it’s quite absurd. Jesus does not give us a politically correct example. He often offended people, mostly the Pharisees (the religious leaders!). Jesus was the ultimate example of speaking the truth in love. So often we think speaking the truth “in love” means keeping our mouths shut or sugar coating the truth; however we should never be ashamed of the truth he has revealed to us in his word! Certainly, we should never apologize for it. I’ve heard people say, “Hey don’t get mad at me it’s in the Bible, God said it not me!”

Listen folks, if God said it, we shouldn’t be ashamed of it! We should speak it boldly and have the life to back it up!

Could you stand before kings with confidence?

Bosses

Spouses

Friends

Siblings

Co-workers

Do we have confidence before them? Can they tell who Jesus is by what they see from us? Or do we have hollow words; or perhaps no words at all?

“I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

Prayer

Lord, teach me your word and let me never be ashamed to proclaim it! Help me to trust the promises in your word, and gain boldness from my relationship with you. I want my life to be a witness of who you are and I want it to point others to you. Let me be one who is deeper than just words, truly walking blamelessly before men.

Expectation

“When will you comfort me?” Psalm 119:82 NLT

Expectation

“I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.” Micah 7:7

I can’t think of anything much worse than getting the silent treatment, especially getting the silent treatment from God. Sometimes our afflictions come in the form of silence. We cry out, we plead, beg, anguish, and it seems to fall on deaf ears. “Where is that God of yours?” you hear while wondering within yourself, “I don’t know.”

We have the word, we know the promises, we claim the truths and yet we get nothing but silence. What are we to do? When will we receive our comfort? The Psalmist went through this awful silence, and he didn’t seem to like it much either. There is an answer, and we do have a choice.

The real answer comes in the waiting. The Psalmist knew that God would comfort him, that wasn’t the issue. The issue was when? It seems that this waiting is usually the problem with us. There is a reason for the silence, though. We can be sure God is not ignoring us, mocking us, playing games, or tricking us. He does care. (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22)

Do we trust what God is doing? Do we trust him in the silence, while we wait for his answer? Micah 7:7 says we can be certain he will hear us. Certain! Right now if you are experiencing the silence, you simply need to be reminded of who God is and how he feels about you. If you believe the Bible is infallible, then you must take the truth that he does care, and wrap it up in your heart like a treasure. Hold on to that during the silence. He will sustain the righteous. Hold on to that during the silence. Truth; hold on to it, stay in it, remind yourself of it, and do not give in to doubt and unbelief that threatens your security in Christ!  The enemy would like nothing more than to get us off the path of trust and into the darkness of doubt. We are rendered ineffective when we are wrecked with unbelief. We cannot help but drip the scent of that poison like garlic cloves hung around our necks. NO! Refuse the unbelief, and embrace the joy of his words to you.

We are called to be active in the waiting. We expect our God to answer, we look for his reply. We don’t stop living life and curl up in a heap while tragedy strikes. We actively trust God and walk in that trust. That is what we are shown throughout the word.

“Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3

“So now, come back to your God…always depend on him.” Hosea 12:6

“The Lord is good to those who depend on him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25-26

“But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.” Romans 8:25

Lastly, we wait with confidence. When we trust someone, we have confidence in them. We know they will come through for us, and that encourages and motivates us. We have confidence in God because of his word that has proven true over and over again in the lives of millions throughout the centuries. Is it even logical to doubt now? When we consider the stars, the heavens, the earth, and all of creation so well designed, does it really seem reasonable to doubt that God will take care of our situation, silent or not?

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

We wait expectantly for him to answer, we know he hears us and sustains us in the silence, we have confidence in him, and we live like we believe what he says!

When the answer comes, when the words are spoken softly to your heart, when understanding is clarified, you can rest assured it was in Gods perfect timing, and not a moment too soon.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I thank you for the silent times, when you have allowed me to learn to wait on you. Thank you for developing a deeper level of trust and confidence in you. Thank you for increasing my faith. I confess my times of unbelief and doubting to you, and ask that you remind me of who you are and how you care for me. Combat the lies of the enemy that tell me you’ve abandoned me with the truth that you are sustaining me. Make that truth real in my heart and open my eyes to see you clearer in my circumstances. Teach me to trust while I am waiting on you.

Affliction in the Silence

 “When will you comfort me?” Psalm 119:82 (NLT)

“My eyes strain to see your rescue.” Psalm 119:123 (NLT)

Affliction in the Silence

“John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” Matthew 11:2-3

Even greats like John the Baptist experienced the painful affliction of silence, when left to fester in our minds this affliction often leads us to doubt. John the Baptist had been sitting in prison, awaiting his death, and I am sure during this time he expected Jesus to come to his rescue. But as time went by he started to wonder if everything he preached, everything he believed, everything he based his life on was even true at all. Had he made one colossal mistake when he invested his life in Jesus? Reading these words of John is almost a reassurance; yes, doubt is normal!  If we continue reading through Matthew 11 we would also see that John’s doubts were calmed by Jesus’ message delivered through the disciples, which reignited his passion and devotion to Jesus. God often allows us to wait in silence and the appearance of unanswered prayers to build our faith and endurance. When we are experiencing the silence that leads us to doubt we need to go back to God’s word for our reassurance; this is where God gives us the comfort of confirmation that he is still at work, and very much caring for our every discomfort.