I recently read an article from Today’s Christian Woman about speaking with truth. A quote from the article says this: “The qualification that we are being honest or authentic doesn’t give us license to say whatever comes to mind. After all, Jesus didn’t run around blurting out everything that was true. While He was never deceitful, Jesus sometimes intentionally withheld truth because he knew that the audience wasn’t ready to hear it. He knew when to speak a harsh rebuke and when to be silent.” Too often we get caught up in being “honest” that we forget to speak with a filter and end up hurting the people that we love the most. We can be truthful without the need for brutal honesty. How do we do this? We speak with my favorite 4-letter word: LOVE. We all know 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and how it describes love. “Love is patient, kind, etc.” But I would like to present it to you as it is written in The Message.
“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”
How does this translate into our everyday conversations with the ones we love? Or even people we may only meet once? Do they hear LOVE when we speak? When we ask Jesus into our hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to reside in us, we become living examples of God’s love. We give Him “skin” so to speak. The idea of an unfailing God who loves unconditionally can be hard to believe for some. That is why it is so important for us to allow His love to flow from every fiber of our being. We need to remember that God speaks to us with love. GOD IS LOVE. He doesn’t keep a record of our wrongs. He casts them as far as the east is from the west. God doesn’t force himself or His will on us. He gives us room to choose, because that is what true love is. And I absolutely revel in the fact that He ALWAYS wants the best for me and He NEVER gives up on me. Just as we make a choice to live for Jesus, we need to make a purposeful choice to speak with love; to be a place of nurture and comfort; to be one that uplifts and not tears down even when speaking with honesty.
Another one of my favorite 4-letter words is HOPE. What exactly is “hope?” It is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen; grounds for believing that something good may happen.” Hoping is very different from wishing in that when a person hopes, she is actively believing for a positive outcome. She is expecting. A wish is a “want for something that cannot or probably will not happen.” God often speaks of hope. In Jeremiah 29:11 He says that He has “plans to give you hope and a future.” In Psalms, David reminds us to put our hope in God for He is where our hope comes from. Even in Titus 2:11-13, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” We can hope for many things in life, but the thing I hope for the most is to spend eternity in heaven with my God and Savior and to see my loved ones filled with this same hope. This cannot be accomplished through harsh words and constant criticism, but I can choose to speak love and hope into the lives of those around me by being positive and looking towards the future; always encouraging even in the midst of disagreement, discipline, and even honesty.
Dear Lord, give me the strength to choose love and hope. Help me to live my life on purpose and to bring you glory with my words and actions. Give me the wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent; to uplift those around me and not tear them down. Thank you for your unfailing love and the hope of an eternity with you. In Your name. Amen.