My lovely wife and I were talking yesterday about the sufficiency of the Gospel for all of life.I confessed that I often don’t, functionally, believe the Gospel’s power in evangelism, and how it can change people. Laura made the comment that a lot of people can speak truth, but the rub is that we must be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). So we looked up this verse and started talking about this concept and what it means.
I love the way Laura reads the Bible, because she always reads the context, and follows the flow of the author’s argument. We looked up this passage in Ephesians 4:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 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.
She pointed out that in the context, “speaking the truth in love” is a mark of maturity, a function of the ministry of the apostles, teachers, prophets, etc. I myself was thinking about God using the means of “love” with which to “speak the truth”, in order to adorn the truth, so that it might penetrate someone’s heart.
We looked up the handy on-line Calvin commentary, who interpreted this verse as “speaking the truth with love.”
All in all, we had a fruitful discussion about how we ought to speak as Christians, to each other and to the lost. And the conclusion we made is obvious: The naked, harsh truth alone must not mark our speech. It must be the naked harsh truth — spoken with and in love.
And such speech marks a mature believer. Such speech the Spirit works through his ministers.