to speak up or not to speak up…it really is the question!
I mentioned in my previous post that I’m going to take some time to answer some questions–not because I’m an expert but because the question was asked and it’s what I’m aware some women who love Jesus are thinking about.
Today’s question: I have found many in my circle to be very hesitant to speak truth in the current political/cultural climate. Most Christians in my circle tend to default to “It’s not my place to judge” or “I don’t want to offend.” In His time, Jesus was both loving & offensive at the same time. How do we speak truth in love without melding into watered down or worldly Christianity?
This is a great question and one I’ve wrestled with myself and I know that I know that I haven’t always gotten it right. But, I have spent time praying about this and seeking God’s Word for wisdom.
I think we first have to consider the WHERE. Where are you speaking truth? If we are speaking truth to an individual that’s one thing but my experience is witnessing people ‘speaking’ (read typing) truth on a public social media platform either blatantly or passive aggressively. Follow me here, because it could seem hypocritical considering I’m putting words out I consider to be truth online and I have a social media presence where I post truths from Scripture.
I’m not suggesting there should not be a presence of truth in the midst of a lot of untruths and misguided beliefs. However, when I seek out Scripture on this, I’m constantly brought back to Matthew 7:6.
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs…Matthew 7:6
What did Jesus mean by ‘throwing pearls to pigs’?
Jesus appears to be warning his disciples to preach only before receptive audiences.
In no way is Jesus suggesting we don’t speak truth or that we water down truth, He just points out that the truth is sacred and that the WHERE matters–in front of receptive audiences. I could be wrong but from my personal observation of people ‘speaking’ truth through means of social media–its rarely done in a way that communicates love (there are obviously exceptions and I hope that my social media presence is one of them). It seems truth is often spoken (read spewed) out of frustration and fear which may appear to the world (and even fellow believers) as judgmental and self-righteous.
So, if those in your circle are shying away from speaking truth it may be they are equating “speaking truth” with what I (and maybe they) have observed on social media and they don’t want to be a part of that.
Surely, there has to be something we can do, right? Silence can’t be the only option.
I don’t think silence is the only option and I don’t think Jesus advocated for silence.
I do think, however, there are more loving ways to speak truth and I think most of them involve a couple of things:
1. Making sure the beam is out of our own eyes. Immediately, preceding the verse about throwing pearls to pigs it says this:
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.Matthew 7:4-5
Before correcting or approaching anyone with truth, we first have to make sure we’ve allowed God to examine our own hearts. By doing so, we know we won’t measure up. Understand perfection is not necessary to speak truth but humility is. Taking time to acknowledge our personal struggle with sin should produce within us a humility that should always accompany presenting truth.
2. Honor the person to whom you offer truth
We can honor someone by approaching them privately instead of trying to out them publicly or even talking about them behind their back to someone else. If you are interacting with someone on social media, move to a private message or ask them to coffee. Hi-jacking the comments on social media for everyone to read doesn’t honor them and it makes you, other Christians and our Jesus look bad.
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.Matthew 18:5
We can also honor them by not making assumptions. Instead of running head first into a rebuke, ask questions with genuine concern and care. You (or Scripture) still may not agree with their choices but take the time hear them out.
Communication is a 2-way process of conveying and receiving a message. You can speak truth all day long but if the receiver of the message has a barrier blocking the reception of the message, it would be helpful to know and sometimes you can find out just by asking.
These principles are much easier to write about than to live out and that is why it is absolutely necessary to lean into God instead of trusting our own wisdom and understanding.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;Proverbs 3:5
My question for you: What has been your experience with speaking truth? When has it been received well? When has it been rejected?