-- Ephesians 4:15
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
-- John 8:31-32
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
-- Romans 13:8-9
Did you ever say something and then realize oops, that didn't come out right? You may have been right about everything but either the way you said it or how it was taken just made it all wrong. It's hard to take that back sometimes, hard to explain that you didn't mean it that way. And the damage is done; the message is lost not because of the message but because of the delivery. God knows this about us and gave us the way to get around this. In order to speak the truth, we must know it. And as we see in John 8:31-32, the truth is in Jesus teachings as we find in God's word. Read it, study it, embrace it and learn from it. Only in that way can you speak of what you find there.
If we then are to speak these truths in love, does that mean we do so with all these warm fuzzy feelings or does it mean something more? It is not the same love as we have for football or pizza or whatever which makes us feel good when we experience it. That is too shallow a love. The love we are to have for our neighbor is based on the love we have for God and what He has done for us. It is a deep soul changing love that guides our daily walk and lasts forever. We can try to speak the truth to others with gentleness or only pleasing words so as not to offend them but that can lead to a shallow understanding on their part that never takes root. We can speak the truth no matter how harsh saying it is out of love for them but then they reject that harshness and thus the message. We need to remember that oftentimes people are not as afraid of God's eternal judgement as they are of our judgement here and now. What is really needed is to be scripturally sound and humanly compassionate. On many occasions, Jesus would simply tell people the truth of their sin and then the message of hope and forgiveness and leave it to them to decide. The need for following Christ has to be the desire of that person's heart and soul and neither we nor our God can give that to them. All we can do is reaffirm to her that we love them and want for them what God has given to us. If we remember God's hope in us, faith in us, and best of all love for us, and we know the truth from knowing and believeing in His word and embracing His son Jesus, we can speak what we know in love and let them decide.