Live in Peace With One Another
Have you ever heard of the phrase - "speak the truth in love..."? It comes from Ephesians 4:15, in a section of Scripture where Paul talked about maintaining peace and unity in the body of Christ.
These five simple words provide a helpful and tangible strategy for maintaining peace in relationships, with three important steps to follow.
1 - Speak.
When relationships are strained, all parties need to verbalize their feelings and thoughts. We may think that the spiritually mature thing to do is to ignore the problem and be silent, but the apostle Paul said to speak. In every type of relationship – marriage, friendships, family, work – everyone should have the freedom to speak their thoughts.
2 - Speak the truth.
When resolving conflict, we are free to speak, but we must be careful to speak only the truth. While most of us wouldn’t tell a bold-faced lie, we may be tempted to distort or exaggerate the facts, make assumptions, or only speak part of the truth. Instead, share only truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. At times, this may require actively pursuing the truth – investigating the details of a situation to get correct and thorough information. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.” There are usually two sides to every story, so it’s wise to pursue all the facts. Sometimes we may be upset about something because we’re misinformed. Often, just talking out a situation – getting the facts – will resolve the issue.
3 -Speak the truth in love.
Some people think that if they are speaking the truth, it doesn’t matter how they speak it. But the apostle Paul said we must share the truth in love. Once in my church, a teenager sang a somewhat questionable song in the service. The following day I received two e-mails about the issue which demonstrate the difference between sharing the truth in love and sharing in a blunt, coarse manner:
Email #1 – Awful!! Not worshipful. Not vocally correct in any way. Do you call that music? Ruined the service for me. Wondering if you ever preview solos before the rest of us are subjected to them? Please reply.
Email #2 – I enjoy a variety of musical styles and generally appreciate the contemporary music that is sung in church. However, I was disappointed with the closing music in yesterday’s service. We love you.
Here are some other suggestions to follow when you speak the truth in love.
• Get to the point quickly; don’t draw out the conversation or build it up to be larger than it is.
• Stick to the issue at hand; don’t introduce unrelated issues.
• Speak only to those who are directly involved in the situation. For example, if someone has offended you, to share your thoughts with someone other than your offender would be wrong, even though you may be “speaking the truth in love.”
• After you speak, give the person you’re talking to an opportunity to respond. Ephesians 4:15 does not give you permission to verbally dump on someone and then leave. Rather, it should be the beginning of a dialogue between both parties.
• Be sensitive about when you share. Ephesians 4:29 defines unwholesome words as words spoken in an untimely manner.
• Be sensitive about how you share. Use a gentle tone of voice; even your body language should be calm and non-intimidating.