“On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4, NIV).
“What will Miranda think of me?” Gladys thought. For weeks she had felt a spiritual unease about Miranda's need to always be the center of attention. She felt concerned about Miranda's need for recognition. Gladys thought the feeling might go away, but the pressure only grew. In today’s passage Paul tells the Thessalonians that he must tell them the truth—no matter how difficult it might be for them to hear. Telling another person God’s truth is one of the hardest, yet greatest gifts you can impart. It is hard because it places your personal relationship with someone in unknown waters. It is great because it has the potential to reap a great reward.
Before ever approaching a friend about your concern, humbly examine your motive. Be sure it is from the Lord. Don’t have any thing in your personal life which doesn’t support what you say. Most importantly, always speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Your love or lack of it will be felt in your approach, choice of words and the tone of your voice. Gladys humbly and lovingly spoke with Miranda. In the beginning Miranda was hurt, but through constant loving care from Gladys, she blossomed. Speaking the truth in love means you are willing to invest your time. Gladys helped Miranda realize that low self-esteem made her constantly seek the approval of others. Through time Miranda came to understand that the need to feel the love of God was what she really sought. His was the acceptance she had sought all along.
What if you are like Miranda, and are on the receiving end? If your friend comes to you “speaking the truth in love”, listen with the love of Jesus in your heart. Realize that what you hear might not be pleasant to your ears, but it also might be necessary to make a difference in your life. Do not take it as a judgment of your character. Listen to what your friend says and ask for the Lord to reveal if it is something that needs to be addressed. Yes, there may be emotional feelings of hurt at first, but take the time and pray about what has been said to you. God will use it to make a difference in your life. The advice will either inspire you to change something in your life or teach you how to respond without hurt to advice which, though you feel is not needed, has been offered in love.
Whether you are called to speak the truth in love or to be the person that receives it, remember this. The sacrifice which is the hardest is often the one that brings the greatest blessing.