Sunday, January 3, 2010

you can't handle the truth

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15

Honesty is a tricky thing. God commands it and legal systems depend upon it, but when it comes to human relationships the waters are muddy. Sure, we all say that we value honesty in our spouse, friends, children, and co-workers. But truthfully, these human relationships would not survive unchecked honesty. If a person honestly spoke every thought, opinion, and feeling out loud, they would be downright intolerable (case in point: the movie Liar Liar).

In human communication there is an unspoken expectation, not of honesty alone, but rather honesty that is tempered by tact and utility. Our response to true but hurtful words is often either "Couldn't you have found a nicer way to say that?" (i.e. no tact) or "Why would you say that to me?" (i.e. no good purpose or utility).

In addition to the honesty, tact, and utility that decent human beings require, God directs us toward another element in our interpersonal communication: love. Love desires God's best for its beloved. When communication is rooted in both truth and love, it will naturally incorporate tact (speaking kindly) and utility (speaking for a good purpose). The problem, however, is that most of us don't want to hear the truth, even if it is spoken in love. And likewise, some of us don't want to be loved, even if it is the truth.

Sometimes I find it simply miraculous that any of us are able to have one moment of true communion with each another. But we do... thanks be to God.

1 comment:

livingpalm said...

i can't remember where or when i read this statement (it's driving me crazy, actually) that we are people who throw word-stones at each other's glass houses.
That's what I thought about when I read your post.
God help us.