I love how God just shows up. Ok, ok, I understand theologically that God is always there. He’s always with us. But there are also times in the midst of everything that God is doing in and around us, He shows up or shows off in ways that sometimes leave us in a sense of awe.
Today as I was enjoying a time of conversation and ministry in lifegroup the Holy Spirit took the conversation and our words and lifted them up to another level. The discussion had come to a point of how sometimes even well meaning people will speak words over us that aren’t exactly, how shall I say… encouraging. Now I know that there are times when people mean to do that, and their words are cutting. But in this conversation we were talking about how sometimes it happens with people that don’t mean to harm. They don’t mean to not encourage…It just happens.
Sometimes people speak a word of truth but it is not wrapped in love. Many times it’s couched in concern or frustration, anger and even in self-righteous religiosity. With this we rationalize that people need this word for their own good. They need the truth. Which is true, but it also needs to come in the right “package”.
In Ephesians chapter 4 God tells us to speak the truth in love. So God has laid down the example of how we are to speak truth. There is no question mark attached to this….this is how we are to speak. Our lives and our words should be marked by truth and love. Not truth or love, but both.
My question then today and what the Holy Spirit said in this moment; “If we are to speak the truth in love, isn’t that also the only way we should receive the truth?” If you’ve been hurt by a word that someone gave you that was true but it wasn’t wrapped in love…should you receive it? Don’t get me wrong, God’s plan is for each of us to walk in truth, but we can be wounded by a well meaning person speaking truth just not in love. How many times have you heard either in the past, “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.”
So what do you do in that situation? You don’t receive that, BUT you ask the Lord if it was truth then to have that Word given to you in love by either Himself or someone else. That’s not sugar coating it, it’s receiving the way that God intends for us to receive. It actually helps us appropriate the truth into our lives.
Our own experience with God is also one that He never speaks truth into us without love. So why would we receive truth from someone else without love, especially as He was very specific in His Word on this.
Bottom line: He’s teaching us not only how to speak, but He’s also teaching us how to hear.