What does it mean to “speak the truth in love”? (Ephesians 4:15) Does it mean that you only speak truth when confronting or rebuking sin, using only kindness, gentleness, and sensitivity in your words? What exactly is “the truth”? Is it not the Gospel? So in speaking “the truth” should we not be sharing the Gospel?
This brings me to a conversation that I had with a young lady who had just recently had an abortion at EMW. She spoke of the sidewalk and how she was horrified and afraid to walk past all of the people lined up in her path…especially the screamers. She only vaguely remembered the few people that told her that Jesus loved her and wanted her to save her baby’s life or that there was help for her, should she change her mind. What she remembered was the ones who were yelling, “You’re a murderer!” “If you kill your baby you will burn in hell!” Maybe there is some truth to what was being shouted. Does aborting a baby make one a murderer? Well, yes it does. An unborn child is a living human and taking a human life does, in fact, make one a murderer. Is she going to burn in hell for taking her baby’s life? Quite possibly…not just for taking her baby’s life, but for her sin in general. We don’t know that she won’t turn to Jesus and the truth, the Gospel, later. We always have hope in Jesus but in not knowing the truth, she is presently destined for hell. Is the shouting of condemning words effective in changing the minds of young women entering the abortion clinic? Definitely not. Is the arrogant and self righteous anger behind those harsh words sharing the truth, as in the Gospel? No, it’s not.
So how do we change this? How do we, as saints, speak the truth in love when the condemnation seems to overpower us? For one, we need to pray that the truth will be heard over the harassment. Pray for divine intervention, that the Gospel being shared in love will be planted in the young ladies, the escorts, the clinic workers, and those who have been misled…that it will take root and be fruitful. We also need to step out of our comfort zones. While rebuking the sin of abortion, we also need to rebuke the sin of self righteous anger in those who are shouting hostile words. It is definitely uncomfortable to confront someone who claims to be a believer. It’s more uncomfortable to think that we may have left them destined for hell. Finally, we should keep encouraging our brothers and sisters to join us on the sidewalks. We are the light, God has chosen us to be that. The darkness cannot live in light. What would it look like if we flooded the sidewalks with light, with saints sharing the Gospel, the truth in love? This is how God uses us to give grace to the lost. Ephesians 4:29 says: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Let him use us to speak the truth in love and to share his grace and mercy, even if it gets uncomfortable.
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.