When Speaking Truth, Don’t Forget the Love

Lately I’ve seen a lot of social media posts that speak truth, but in a really harsh and ugly way. Rather than lean in and engage with their words, I get the urge to fight them in the comments…even if I agree with their point.

One lady wrote in all caps, something to the effect of, “WOMEN CALLED TO BE PASTORS ARE DECEIVED BY SATAN AND LIVING IN SIN!” My immediate urge was to write some fighting words in the comments but thought better of it. I then stopped and thought, “That post is not going to draw anyone closer to Jesus, so whether I agree with her or not, my comments aren’t going to help the matter.” 

Another lady posted that if your pastor didn’t stand up and say something about Roe vs Wade the Sunday after the law was overturned, that’s a huge red flag and you should reconsider attending that church. I commented something like, “My pastor didn’t mention it, but I don’t think he needed to. The church is very involved with supporting a Christian pro-life womens clinic and I know that the congregation was all celebrating. I think you need to reevaluate your statement.” The reply to my comment began, “WRONG!!!…” and I was then completely torn down. Is this how we are taught to treat one another?

What happens when we speak the truth but forget the love? We miss the chance to glorify God. Believers are drawn away from him and nonbelievers turn their backs completely. 

The Christian worldview is under attack. Gender roles. Abortion. Sexuality. And so on. The debates on social media are downright dirty and Christians are partially to blame. As Christians we are called to speak truth in love, but what I am seeing is Christians speaking truth and totally forgetting the love part.

What does it mean to speak truth in love?

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV)

We are called to walk differently than before we came to know Jesus. We are called to a life of humility, gentleness, patience, love and empathy. We are to be one with him, bonded with a peace only obtained through a spirit filled life.

God equips us to build up the body of Christ, that we would all attain maturity in Christ rather than be like children, “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:14 ESV)

Satan wants nothing more than for us to go with whatever thinking the world puts in our path. He wants us to think that the things we are hearing and seeing from our society are pleasing to the Lord, but so often they are not.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:15-16 (ESV)

We are called to speak truth, but not just truth; “truth in love.” We are to work together, encouraging each other in our spiritual gifts to exude Christ’s love.

Instead, we see arguments ensue. Christians are debating both each other and nonbelievers. We are called to glorify Christ in all we do, but in this attitude he is not being exalted.

So, how do I speak truth in love?

What we put into our minds and hearts will come out of our mouths. Get in the Word and have scripture to back up your statements. Be confident that you are truly speaking the truth. If you can’t find scripture to support your thinking, don’t say it. If you do have scripture, present it lovingly.

Also, ask yourself, “Is what I’m saying drawing people towards Jesus or is it pushing them away?” How does what I’m saying look to an unbeliever? Is the unbeliever going to want to know more about Jesus or are you giving them fuel to try that much harder to prove you wrong? Are you setting a good example for younger believers? Jesus calls us to discipleship and leading by example is part of how we make disciples.

I have to interject here that the answer is not to isolate yourself to only people who agree with you. You need to learn to be able to live in the world while not being of the world. If someone in your life or on social media is saying things that get you worked up with anger, create healthy boundaries with that person. 

I have people in my life for whom I have a few topics that are unsafe for conversation because they can’t disagree in a respectful manner. I’m fine with disagreeing with people as long as respect remains intact. I have unfollowed people on Facebook for that same reason. I don’t cut them out completely. In some cases I just can’t (i.e. family or co-workers). More importantly, maybe they will see Christ’s love in my actions and slowly become open to having a respectful conversation. Maybe I can positively influence them towards Christ.

Finally, are you starting a healthy discussion on the topic or are you just telling people what they should think?

Bashing facts into people’s faces is going to cause them to recoil rather than stop and consider what you are saying. I’ve recently unfollowed people I don’t know well on Facebook because what they were saying was making me angry. I happened to agree, for the most part, with their point. However, how they said it made me want to oppose them simply because they are being rude. If I, someone who agrees, wants to oppose you, there’s no way you are going to capture the ear of someone who disagrees. 

If we see a believer acting or speaking outside of God’s will, we are to correct them. Gently. If you are someone with whom I have a close relationship, I will approach you privately.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Galatians 6:1 (ESV)

If we are called to be gentle with believers who are wrong, how much more gentle should we be with nonbelievers? I’m not saying to water down the truth. I’m not suggesting you sugar coat anything. I am saying that you should approach others with love and humility. With gentleness and respect. Listen to what they have to say, ask questions, and invite them to consider another perspective in a way that makes them want to engage in civil conversation.

I’ve made a conscious decision to not post anything on social media where I know there are strongly opposing sides to the issue. I have definite opinions and beliefs on current events like school shootings, LGBTQ+ issues, and abortion. However, because I can’t trust people to have a loving civil conversation, I choose not to go there in the first place. If you want to discuss any of these issues with me, let’s get a cup of coffee and sit and listen to each other’s viewpoints, hear each other’s tone of voice, and watch each other’s body language. Bumper sticker statements on social media aren’t likely going to get us anywhere good.

I want to challenge you to consider how you are presenting yourself on social media or otherwise. Are you just trying to get your voice heard or are you trying to draw others to the foot of the cross?