“But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15 NASB).
Social media knows how to tear down. It is amazing how brave people become behind a keyboard (self-included). From the Twitter rants to the blog attacks, the battle for the internet continues to progress, and it seems as though everyone has access to a virtual soapbox.
We must confess that as evangelicals we too have misused this God-given avenue and have lacked in self-control by speaking our mind like a fool without discretion (Prov 18:2, 6; 29:11). Yet, despite our failures and misuse of social media, it still is an avenue for ministry that can be used in a God-glorifying manner.
Our desire, however, is not to fall into either of the two extremes. On one hand, there is the potential for this blog to sound like a noisy gong that lacks love, which results in the loss of an audience. On the other hand, it is also possible to act like an ignorantly tolerant fool who lacks all truth or discretion, and this only leads to superficiality and abundant sin.
Thankfully, it seems as though Ephesians 4:15 is the complete whole and harmony of what the Christian must emulate in his or her life. Instead of being children who are tossed around by error (Eph 4:14), wandering around, Paul instructed these believers to be professors and confessors of the truth. The trickery of deceitful men was everywhere, and the call to contend for the truth was important.
In this passage, a believer must exemplify an unwavering adherence to Gospel and biblical truth, yet he must convey this with an attitude of love and humility. In other words, the content is true but the tool is love. Harold Hoehner says this:
“Furthermore, with this in mind, believers are not to use truth in a retaliatory manner against the deceivers, but rather are to show and speak the truth with love. This manner of life is far more powerful than a life of deceit because it has no fear that hidden motives or facts will be revealed. It is a transparency that is wedded to love, love with truth that enables individual believers to grow harmoniously with other members of the body with the resulting growth of the whole body.” (Hoehner)
Truth needs love and love needs truth. Some see a disconnect between the two, but the Bible sees a harmony. Clint Arnold emphasizes the attitude in which this truth is conveyed:
“The truth of the Gospel needs to be proclaimed and upheld within the community of believers. But it needs to be done with a heart that is tender and concerned about the feelings, growth, and well-being of fellow believers.” (Clint Arnold).
So then, what does this look like? When addressing believers, speaking the truth “In love” preserves the unity between us and helps the church to grow properly (Eph 4:16). When addressing the unbelieving world, the desire is to give the world the greatest manifestation of love: Christ and the cross. To give the Gospel to the lost is to give love itself.
This passage in Ephesians embodies the hearts of the contributors. It does not mean that we will not rebuke and have only soft words, nor does it mean that we will only yell and scream. It means that we see the importance of avoiding every extreme and we will do our best to find the biblical harmony. As Christians, our commitment must be to a life full of grace and truth, the same life that Jesus Christ lived. So in speech, life, and blog, our desire is to be characterized as people of both truth with love.
May all our lives be abundantly filled with truth in love as we grow in Christ-likeness.