Ephesians 4: 14-15
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Genesis 3: 1-4
Now the snake was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’
The woman said to the snake, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”’
‘You will not certainly die,’ the snake said to the woman. 5 ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’
Speaking the truth in love is not easy. Most of us will, by personality or background, veer more heavily towards one or the other. Some are more inclined towards truth at the expense of love. Others long to express love to the point that they avoid telling people the truth when it is required. Truth without love is brutal; love without truth is sentimental.
However the apostle Paul says that these are two things that we cannot separate if we are to represent Jesus well with our words.
People who are growing towards Christ-like maturity are courageous and honest enough to speak the truth, even difficult and challenging truth when it is required. However this always comes from a place and a posture of genuine love towards the person we’re speaking to.
In verse 14 Paul has been describing false teachers who are using words which are absent of both truth and love within the church. Look at how he describes the manner in which they are using words: cunning, crafty, deceitful, scheming.
Now compare this with the account in Genesis 3 of the serpent in the Garden of Eden. We are told explicitly that he is crafty as he cunningly schemes to convince Eve that there are no consequences for disobeying God, then he deceives her into believing a lie that God is withholding something good.
Throughout human history his methods have never changed. Jesus described him as: "...a liar and the father of lies..." (John 8: 44) So, as he seeks to influence our lives and draw us away from our passionate pursuit of Jesus, he will use the same tactics. He wants us to believe lies about ourselves, God, one another and life in general. Sadly these lies often come through other people. Even people we love and trust. If we take them on board, they can be incredibly detrimental to our lives.
There can be patterns of behaviour and attitudes in our lives which are holding us back, damaging our relationships and taking us in a destructive direction but we don’t realise just how harmful it is or we have convinced ourselves that it’s no big deal. No one has ever had the courage to come and tell us lovingly, that this is an area that we need to have a look at.
One psychiatrist, Richard Restark, says this: “Secrets, especially those we try to hide from our conscious selves, make the mind sick. Conversely, acceptance of unwanted thoughts robs them of their power to inflict suffering.”
That is why it is so important that we are people who are committed to consistently "speaking the truth in love." This disarms the enemy's schemes and replaces his lies. It leads to right thinking which translates into right living.
Jesus said: “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8: 32)
Lies keep us bound, trapped and imprisoned. Truth, applied to our lives, liberates and brings healing. Truth declares reality over our lives, it tells us how things really are.
As John Ortberg says: “Trying to grow spiritually without hearing the truth about yourself from somebody else is like trying to do brain surgery on yourself without a mirror.”
At the foundation of healthy relationships, and healthy souls, is a commitment to truth communicated with love.