Jesus wasn’t just a “nice guy”. Yes, he overflowed with love, compassion, and care. He put these emotions into action by providing food to the hungry, healing the sick, comforting the broken-hearted, and offering forgiveness to the shamed. But he also didn’t hesitate to get in their faces when they needed it. He called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers”, overturned the tables in the temple, and pointed out things that needed fixing. He told stories with shocking and thought-provoking endings that insulted some people and opened the eyes of others. Jesus wasn’t “nice,” yet He was without sin. He spoke the truth in love.
I don’t want to be just a “nice lady,” but I don’t want to be witchy either. Being like Jesus is a little tricky – a sort of balancing act. You can’t go around calling people vipers or pointing out their flaws and expect to have the same effect that Jesus did. You can’t just give people whatever they want or need and flaccidly smile with the hope they understand God’s love. You must speak the truth in love.
How do you speak the truth in love? A few things I’m learning and hoping to practice more:
1) Know when to speak and when to be silent. Sometimes Jesus explained himself and sometimes he kept his mouth shut even in the midst of misunderstanding. He allowed himself to be falsely accused for a time so that later people would understand. It’s not only a matter of timing, but a matter of how many words as well.
2) Keep in step with the Spirit. When I’m in a situation where an instant response is required, sometimes my response is a natural fleshly knee-jerk reaction that kicks in the wrong direction. If I can keep in step with the Spirit and ask for His continual filling, in the critical moments of my response, I can answer rightly and reflect the words God would have me speak.
3) Seek God’s perspective and wisdom. I have to remind myself that it’s not about me, and it’s not even about them. Rather, it’s about Him and showing off His greatness. His bird’s eye view of the situation is not only global but encompasses all of time – past, present, and future. My street view is limited – I can’t even see around the next corner nor where I’ve been without a mirror, so I need to obey and trust His navigational system. I need to be courageous to speak as He leads.
4) Keep my eyes on the cross and the love and grace that emanates from it. Only in grasping and remembering what Christ has done for me can I then possess enough love and grace to give to others. If I have the greatest gifts but have not love, I have nothing.
Love is essential.