Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
—1 Thessalonians 2:4 (CEB)
I would like to share a story about two friends—Gertrude and Hortense. Perhaps you will be encouraged to pray about an issue that the Holy Spirit has brought to your mind. Perhaps God wants to use you to make a difference in the life of someone else, or perhaps God wants to make a change in your own life by being willing to be used. For weeks Gertrude watched as people avoided Hortense because Hortense felt she always had to have an answer or a way to fix every problem. Gertrude knew Hortense loved the Lord and prayed that God would show Hortense how the need to always have an answer or a way to fix issues was pushing people away. Gertrude didn’t want to be guilty of trying to fix Hortense, but pressure grew until Gertrude realized the Holy Spirit was calling her to talk to Hortense. In 1 Thessalonians 2:4 Paul told the Thessalonians that he must tell them the truth—no matter how difficult it might be for them to hear. The truth might not be pleasing to them, but it was necessary for their well-being. 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 own heart and your real motive. Be sure your love for them is the motive. Be sure nothing stems from jealousy or resentment or bitterness. You must place your own life on the altar before you can ever say one word. Don’t have anything 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. Gertrude humbly and lovingly spoke with Hortense. In the beginning Hortense was hurt, and even angry. However with constant love from Gertrude, Hortense realized what Gertrude had said was true. Speaking the truth in love means you are willing to invest your time—not just speak and then move on. Gertrude helped Hortense realize that low self-esteem made her constantly seek the approval of others. Through time Hortense came to understand that the need to feel the love of God was what she really sought. His love was the acceptance she had sought all along.
What if you are like Hortense and are on the receiving end? If your friend comes to you “speaking the truth in love”, listen with the love of Jesus. 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 believe 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.
© 2018 Lynn Lacher