Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Instructing with Gentleness, Pt. 2

Is your message true?

John 1:14 says that Jesus came "full of grace and truth." An interesting teaching I heard put it this way: He was not 47% grace and 53% truth. He was full of both grace and truth. Jesus said in John 18:37 that He came to testify to truth, and in John 8 He said that truth is what sets us free. Before you can instruct with gentleness, you must ensure that the message you intend to convey is true.

Truth is scary at times. Most of us don't like being wrong, and the more firmly we hold to a particular "truth" we know, the more difficult it is to accept correction. Some people respond by trying to find fault in the person presenting the truth, as if "bringing them down a notch or two" will negate their own need to change their behavior in response to the truth that was shared. I don't know about you, but for me there is a measure of embarrassment that comes with being confronted with where I have messed up, especially if it is completely out of the blue from my perspective. I shared with a friend of mine recently that the worst part for me about becoming more Christ-like is the feeling of utter stupidity that comes with thinking that I should have seen the flaw before it was revealed to me.

We instinctively recognize that truth can be hard to hear, so sometimes we err on the side of not speaking truth at all. If this describes you, consider this: everything Jesus said was the truth, and He was crucified for speaking it. The vast majority of His disciples died a martyr's death for proclaiming the truth.

Now, I know that the weight of what we have to say on a daily basis is not going to get us killed (at least, not here in America), but as I have already pointed out, we don't always see where we need correction. We need other people in our lives to show us where our lives don't measure up to the Word. If you refuse to tell your brother or sister the truth they need to hear, then you aren't acting out of love for that person. Rather than setting them free with truth, you are leaving them enslaved with tact.

Whether you speak or keep silent, you are conveying a message. If you want to be one who instructs with gentleness, you must start with a message that is true.