Craig Smith - How to Tell the Truth Without Being a Jerk
Hey, welcome to Mission Hills. So good to have you with us. Today we are on week number 9 of our deep dive into the Ten Commandments. And I wanna dive right into the text today because the ninth commandment might be the one that’s often misquoted. And I wanna make sure we see how God originally worded it. So if you wanna join me, we’re in Exodus chapter 20, verse 16. And the ninth commandment is this, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. We often misquote that when we simplify it quite a bit, and we just say don’t lie, right?
It’s one of a set of three, most people can’t name all Ten Commandments, but almost everybody can name three of them. And here’s how we go, we go, “Yeah, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal.” And don’t steal is actually a pretty good summary of what God says in the 8th commandment, we looked at it last week. Don’t cheat pretty good summary of the 7th commandment we looked at a couple of weeks ago. But don’t lie is probably an oversimplification of the ninth commandment. God’s actually giving us some information there that we need to keep in mind as we think about what this commandment really is all about. He says, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
Now, what I wanna do is I wanna kind of unpack that to make sure we’re getting out of it everything that God put in there, starting with the word order. In the English that I’m reading, you know, almost every translation does the same thing, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not bear false testimony, something like that, against your neighbor. But in the original Hebrew, the word order’s a little bit different and you can’t really translate it into English and keep the same word order it just doesn’t work. The original word order will be something like, “Do not give against your neighbor false testimony.” And it doesn’t work really well in English so we always play around with it.
But the reason that I point that out is because in the original Hebrew word ordering there’s a little bit of a different emphasis. In the English, it sounds like the emphasis is on the false testimony, the lies. But actually, in the original Hebrew, the emphasis is on how false testimony impacts others. Because neighbor comes earlier, the emphasis is really on what damage false testimony does to our neighbor. It’s really it’s an emphasis on how false testimony impacts others. That’s the primary concern, which really shouldn’t be a surprise. If you’ve been with us long all along, you may remember that we’ve said that the Ten Commandments break into two sections, the first five are all about how we love…anybody? God. Is how we love God. The second set is all about how we love others. So it shouldn’t be surprising that there is an emphasis here on how lying, how false testimony impacts others. But that emphasis is also reflected in the original wording.
I’m reading the New International Version. The New International Version says, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” But some of the older translations say it a little differently. Some of you may remember the King James, anybody remember the King James? Old King James says it this way, it says, “Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” And so instead of give, they say bear and that might sound a little bit strange because when we say the word bear, we’re usually talking about carrying something heavy, right? We’re bearing something that’s got some weight to it, but actually, that is reflected in the original Hebrew, it does have a sense of something having weight.
Interestingly, the Hebrew word here when it was used positively, they could translate it as to give an answer. Because the problem was, you’re giving them something that has weight, you’re giving them something that has substance to it, it’s the truth. But negatively, you could also use the same Hebrew word to talk about putting weight on somebody. And you would often use it that way to really talk about oppressing or afflicting somebody, coming against them, almost an attack.
In fact, earlier in the Book of Exodus, back in Exodus chapter 1, we have an interesting description of life for the Hebrews when they’re enslaved in Egypt. And here’s what it says that the Egyptian masters did to them. Exodus 1:11. “And so they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor.” And if you wanna underline the word oppressed, the word there oppressed is actually the same Hebrew root word that’s used in the commandment to say don’t give or don’t bear false witness.
And so really, the sense is, basically they’re saying, hey, when you lie, what you’re really doing is you’re oppressing somebody, you’re putting weight on them that they shouldn’t have to carry. So really, kind of the idea is don’t weigh down your neighbor with false testimony. Does that make sense? That’s the idea. Don’t weigh down your neighbor. Don’t make them carry a weight they shouldn’t have to carry. Don’t weigh down your neighbor with false testimony.
And you may know that the word neighbor doesn’t just mean the person living right next door to you. The Bible uses neighbor to talk about a whole lot of people. Jesus really expanded it in one of his most famous teachings called the Parable of the Good Samaritan, how many of us have heard the story of the good Samaritan? Interesting story in the ancient world in Israel, the idea of a good Samaritan wouldn’t have made any sense because the Samaritans were the enemies. So the idea that one of your enemies would do something good was kind of hard for people to understand. But as Jesus told the story, one of their enemies did something kind for one of them.
And then the point of that whole parable really was to say, “Hey, God expects us to treat even our enemies as our neighbors.” God expects us to treat even our enemies as our neighbors. And so this idea of, you know, don’t weigh down your neighbor with false testimony it’s a pretty broad thing. It’s kind of, don’t weigh anybody down with this stuff.
And by the way, the word false testimony, that sounds really legal. It sounds very formal, but really, the root Hebrew word just means to repeat. So a witness was somebody who repeated in a court of law, but what they’re doing is they’re just repeating something and in the process of doing that, they’re claiming that it’s fact. So false witness really is basically just don’t repeat what’s not true. Don’t speak an untruth. So you got to put all this together, what the Ten Commandments…or the ninth commandment is pointing us to is this idea it’s don’t weigh anyone down with untruth. That’s the idea. Don’t weigh anyone down with untruth. Because here’s the thing, lies weigh us down and truth sets us free, right? Lies weigh us down but truth lightens the load.
Jesus very famously said something very similar. He said, John 8:32. He says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you…” what is it, church? Free. He says then you’re gonna know the truth and the truth will set you free. The truth will lighten your load. It will get you out from under the weight of untruth.
Now, Jesus was talking about a very specific truth there. He was talking about the truth of who he is, the Son of God. He’s talking the truth of what he was gonna do for us, he was gonna die on the cross to pay the price of our sins in his blood. And then he’s gonna rise from the dead and he was gonna offer us salvation by putting our trust in the truth. And when we put our faith in Jesus and what he’s done for us, we’re set free, our load’s light, and we’re set free from sin, we’re set free from death, we’re set free from darkness. So truth lightens the load. Jesus is talking about something very specific there. But the principle is true of all truth. All truth lightens the load, the principle is also true conversely, that all lies that all untruth actually adds weight. That’s true of all lies, regardless of why we lie.
By the way, can we just ask this, anybody here ever in their entire life not told a single lie? I don’t see any hands going up. All right. I won’t ask you like, within the last week or anything like that because that just that’s way too much meddling. Okay. Well, we’ve all done it. Okay. And here’s the interesting thing, we’ve all done it, and reality is we all do it. Studies actually say that the average person lies seven times a day. And that’s self-reported. So I’m guessing it’s at least 14, actually, right? Lying is pretty common. I think there are three areas that we lie in. And the reality is that it doesn’t matter why we lie, why we’re tempted to lie, in every area or for every reason we lie, the reality is that our lies add weight to people. Okay.
One of the reasons I think we lie is we like to help others, don’t we? We lie to help others. These are what we call the little white lies, right? These are the lies designed, you know, to not hurt somebody’s feelings or to make them feel better, right? Like guys, if your wife has ever started a sentence with, “Hey, does this dress make me look…” and you’re like, “Stop, stop, stop. No, whatever, you’re gonna say, no, it does not,” right. Or ladies, if you’ve ever said anything like this to your man, like, “Honey, you’re such an incredible carpenter. I can’t believe you built that whole deck by yourself, it’s incredible. I had no idea you had that skill.” Okay, kids don’t go on the deck. I don’t want you to die, right. That these are lies we tell to help others.
Now, the Bible has a word for this kind of lie and the word is flattery. Now, unfortunately, what the Bible has to say about flattery is not all that flattering. This is what the Bible says about flattery. Proverbs 29:5, “Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet.” Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet. Now, the imagery there is like when you have a net if you walk over a net, your toe gets caught and things and pretty soon your face down, okay. It trips you up, it weighs you down. It’s something you have to deal with you shouldn’t otherwise have to deal with. And it’s interesting he says that those who flatter their neighbors spread nets for their feet, and it’s not entirely clear who their feet is referring to. Is that the feet of your neighbors or is it the feet of the one who spreads the net for the neighbors? And I think the answer is it’s probably both of those because flattery puts weight on everybody.
Years ago, we hadn’t been married very long and my in-laws, Coletta’s folks, they brought me a brick of cheese for Christmas. It was this massive, it was about that big, it was just like it was a brick, I don’t know how to describe it. And it was like some kind of smoked cheese and I didn’t know ’em very well and I really wanted a good relationship with them. So, you know, I opened it up for Christmas, I took a little slice, I ate it, and then I like, man, I lied. I liked it. It was okay, but that’s not what I told them. I told them it was the best cheese I’d ever had, like, I like, well, I went to town. This is so great. I love this cheese. It’s amazing, where did you get this and they told me, I like this. So thank you very much, I love this cheese so much.
The problem was they brought me a brick of cheese every time they came to see me for like the next 15 years. And I never finished the first brick of cheese so they just kept building up in the freezer. Now I was weighing them down with my flattery because they kept spending money on cheese. It wasn’t getting eaten. But I was also weighing myself down because every time they came I was terrified they’d go in the freezer and find the wall of cheese. I became the best husband ever every time my wife needed anything in the freezer I was like, “No, no, no, I’ll go get it. Don’t send your mother, I will go get it, you sit down, Linda, I will go get it.” I didn’t want her to see the wall of cheese.
There’s a weight that comes from flattery, it comes back to haunt us because here’s the reality, even though we might do it from good motives, anything built on false foundations eventually falls. Okay, it’s always gonna come true. Anything built on false foundations eventually falls, it comes down. And so even when we’re lying to help others, we actually find ourselves putting weight on them and weight on ourselves.
Now, there’s another reason I think we lie, probably a little bit more common even. And that is we lie to help ourselves, right? We lie to help ourselves. It starts really early on, right? We lie to get out of trouble, right? Parents you’re gonna have the same experience tonight that I had years ago with my kids. Halloween night’s over, we let them have a certain amount of candy. But then, you know, we say you can’t have any candy in your room. No, it’s you know, it’s a cut-off, right? You brushed your teeth, you’re done. Then you come in, in the morning and you’re like, huh, there’s candy wrappers. And you look at your kids and you go, “Hey, did you eat candy last night?” “No.” Because they don’t see the big picture of how to like, really do it right. You know, “That’s no, that’s weird, how did you think that get there?” “I think the dog did that.” Honey, the dog doesn’t have thumbs, this candy has been unwrapped. Maybe they did it with their tongue I don’t know.
But sometimes it works. Let’s be real. Okay, sometimes we did do something we shouldn’t have done and somebody asked us about it and we lied and we got away with it. And we learn that pretty young. And so we continue to do it. Who messed this thing up at work? Wasn’t me, right? We lie to get out of trouble. We lie to get things that we want, right? We lie on resumes. We claim that we have skills and experience that we never had. And there’s weight that comes from that, there’s weight on our employers, there’s weight on the people, right. There’s also weight on us, right? Because we’re living in fear that somebody is gonna come to us, a manager is gonna come to us and be, “Hey, would you do this thing that you said on your resume you got all kinds of experience with.” And you’re like, “Oh, like, like, like now? You mean to do that now?
There’s a dread that comes from that because here’s the reality. Sometimes we lie to get things that we want, but we just don’t get to keep them for very long. Proverbs 12:19 says, “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” It gives us a temporary reprieve but eventually, it comes falling down. And we live with the weight of the fear of knowing it’s gonna happen and it could happen at any moment. It’s a weight that God says we don’t need to carry, you shouldn’t be carrying.
Then there’s a third category of why we lie. And it’s this, it’s that we lie to hurt others. This is really the one that the ninth commandment is primarily focused on, is lying to hurt somebody. It’s lying to hurt their reputation, it’s lying to get ahead of them, or it’s lying to slow them down so that we can get ahead of them. It’s lying to undermine them or their reputation or in some way to do damage to them. We lie to hurt them.
It’s interesting to me, I think anything that comes out of our mouth, there’s two questions that we should be asking about it. And the first question is this. Is it true? And then the second question is, is it kind? Those are two pretty good questions. If we ask those questions before anything came out of our mouths, we would all be doing a whole lot better in life. Is it true and is it kind?
But it’s interesting you can categorize the kinds of things that come out of our mouths entirely based on the answer to those two questions. In fact, you can kind of think about it as a grid. We’re gonna put it up here. Top we got true or untrue on the left we got is it kind or unkind. Almost everything we say fits pretty neatly into one of those categories, right. So see if it’s untrue, but it’s kind, it’s flattery. If it’s untrue, but it’s kind, it’s flatter. We’ve already talked about the fact that that’s not a good thing either, it has a weight to it. It’s there’s a net that’s a snare to people, they fall down because of it.
Well, what about if it’s true but unkind? Well, if it’s true, but it’s unkind, it’s called gossip. If it’s true but unkind, it’s called gossip. And some people go, “No, I thought gossip was false stuff. I thought gossip was false rumors.” It’s not actually. According to the Bible, gossip is actually rooted in truth. It’s just a truth that shouldn’t have been shared.
Proverbs 20:19, says, “A gossip betrays a confidence. And so avoid anyone who talks too much.” You see that? Gossip betrays the confidence in other words they heard it from you and it’s true, it’s a true statement, but it wasn’t theirs to share. And so they’ve broken your confidence by sharing it. They’re speaking a truth but they’re speaking it almost always for an unkind reason. Like anything that comes after, “Hey, did you hear?” isn’t usually because I’m just about to build somebody up like you’ve never heard. No, did you hear is almost always followed by tearing down, there’s an unkind motivation to it. So if it’s untrue, or if it’s true and it’s unkind it’s gossip.
But what about if it’s untrue and unkind? If it’s untrue and unkind, the Bible calls that slander. That’s the biblical word for it. If it’s untrue and unkind, it’s called slander. It’s really what the ninth commandment is talking about. Slander is always deliberate. And it always comes from a heart that really desires to hurt. Proverbs 10:18 says, “Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.” Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips that’s what slander is. It’s untrue and it’s unkind. It’s designed to hurt. And it’s always deliberate. It’s not always clear that it’s deliberate. People will count it in all kinds of other things to make it look like something else. But in reality, it’s always driven by a desire to hurt, there’s something deep and dark in us, we’re hurt, or we’re angry or we’re bitter or we’re something. And out of that, we wanna hurt somebody else and we’re willing to embrace untruth to do the damage. That’s slander.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty common. Especially I mean, especially when you think about politics, right? Like, I don’t know about you, but you know, a few years ago, when President Trump was the president, I was so frustrated by some of my Democrat friends who would send me posts or they’d share things they saw. Or they’d email me articles that said, you know, President Trump did this crazy thing. He said this ridiculous thing or he’s doing this outrageous thing. And sometimes I would look at it and be like, “Well, that is outrageous.” Like, that’s so outrageous, I’m having a hard time believing that. And then, you know, one of the worst things about the internet is all that stuff, you know, propagates out there.
But one of the best things is you can actually do some research. And so I see these ridiculous things and then I do a little bit of research, and I’d find that it just wasn’t true. It was something taken ridiculously out of context or something that’s just dramatically exaggerated. I was so frustrated, by the way, that the liberals were doing that to President Trump. Does anybody else feel like that a few years ago? Yeah. Don’t get comfortable because now we’ve just flipped-flopped it. And it’s so frustrating now when my Republican friends send me articles about, you know, what President Biden did or said, and sometimes I look at ’em like, man, that is outrageous. But 30 seconds of research, yeah, but it’s just not true. It’s way exaggerated. It’s something ridiculously out of context. But it’s being propagated.
And so here’s the interesting thing. We tend to think of slander as something when we know we’re lying, and when we share it to hurt somebody. But the reality is, we can also commit slander, even when we don’t know that it’s not true, but we propagate it, we send it out there, we share it as though it were true and we just didn’t bother to do the research. It’s kind of sickening stuff honestly. I used to live in Cincinnati. And I remember a few years ago, there was a town council election in Cincinnati and there was a guy running for town council, he’s re-upping for town council. And his opponents put out an ad I saw…I heard it probably like, 100 times. And basically this guy, they say, “He voted to taser seven-year-olds.” And you’re like, “What a jerk,” right? And like the way the ad that is like, you know, he was like, “Okay, police officers, gather up, here’s what I want you to do, get your taser out, now go find them.” That was kind of the way they are.
But really what happened when you did the research was, “Hey, you know what, the police had already approved the use of tasers to subdue violent seven to 70-year-olds. And there was a movement, maybe we should make the cut-off 10.” And he didn’t vote for it. And the reason he didn’t vote for it was because he said, “The problem is sometimes seven-year-olds are violent, they need to be subdued and if they can’t use tasers, then the police are gonna use guns or they’re gonna use their batons and beat them. And that’s no good.” But it took a little bit of research to find that but these things get…and people share that with me like, “We can’t vote for this guy, he’s after seven-year-olds.”
Man, and I know for a fact that a couple of my friends I shared the background of that and they were like, “Oh, all right. Well, that’s not so bad.” And I’m like, “Are you gonna stop sharing that article or that ad?” Hmm. There’s no hmm. Sometimes we do it deliberately and sometimes we do it unknowingly but we got to stop doing it. Here’s an important rule actually, investigate before you propagate. How about that? Can we just agree to do that? Investigate before you propagate.
Listen, I don’t care if you’re a Republican, I don’t care if you’re a Democrat. I don’t care if you’re some kind of Republicant or some combination. I don’t care. If you’re a follower of Jesus, that’s got to come first. And as followers of Jesus, we got to be careful what comes out of our mouth or out of our fingers. That our thumbs push out into the world. We got to be careful that what’s coming out is not unkind and untrue. We got to be careful about it.
Okay, so if it’s untrue, but kind it’s flattery. If it’s true, but it’s unkind it’s gossip. If it’s untrue and unkind, it’s slander. What about if it’s true and kind? What do we call that? The Bible calls that love. If it’s true and kind, it’s love. And what I think we need to understand is that’s the ultimate goal of the ninth commandment. If you’ve been with us throughout this series, you remember we said each of the commandments is a first step, it’s not the finish line. Each of the commandments points us in the right direction. It gets us moving towards where God really wants us to be as his people. But it’s not the ultimate standard, it’s just the first step in that direction. Okay, so the first step is hey, don’t speak things that are unkind and untrue, or kind and untrue or unkind and untrue or unkind and true, right? But none of those are the goal. The ultimate goal is that what comes out of our mouths is both true and kind.
The Apostle Paul writing to the church in Ephesus says this and it’s such an interesting thing. He says instead, and he’s referring to the fact that people have been doing all kinds of lying, all kinds of untrue and unkind things have been coming out of their mouths. He says this, he says, “Instead of that, 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.” That’s such an interesting statement. Instead of the way the world does it, he says we’re gonna speak the truth in love. We’re gonna speak only what is kind and true. And what he says is by doing that, he says, we become we grow and become in every respect in every aspect of who we are the mature body of him who was the head that is Christ. In other words, he says we become a mature church, we become mature followers of Jesus.
And this is so interesting to me. Because you know, here at Mission Hills, our mission is to help people become like Jesus and join him on mission. That’s mature faith, that’s mature following Jesus, we’re becoming like Jesus in our character. We’re also joining Jesus on mission to the world, we’re speaking truth into the world, the truth of the Gospel that people desperately need to hear. And Paul gives an interesting roadmap here for getting to that maturity. I don’t know about you, but when I think about becoming like Jesus growing in maturity in my faith, you know, I think, well, you know, you need to read the Bible. You need to pray, you need to go to worship and worship God together. You know, we need to serve and all that stuff’s true, and all that stuff’s good. But Paul says here, you wanna get some maturity, here’s how you do it, by speaking the truth in love. So interesting.
Jesus made it very clear that love is the clearest sign of our maturity. He said about this everyone will know that you’re my followers that you love one another. Love is a clear sign of our maturity. But Paul says here, it’s also the source of it. It’s not just a result of our growth, it’s also the roadmap of growth, speaking the truth in love moves us forward in becoming like Jesus and joining him on mission.
And so, the finish line, the ninth commandment just isn’t just to you know, not speak untruth, it’s not to just not weigh others down with what’s untrue, it’s actually to lighten their load with truth, right? I mean, really, God calls us, this is the bottom line, God calls us to lighten the load by speaking only truth, only in love. He calls us to lighten the load of ourselves, he calls us to lighten a load of our friends and our family, and our co-workers. Really he calls us to lighten the load of the world by speaking only truth only in love. Which, of course, is easier said than done, right?
So, how do we do that? How do we speak only truth only in love? Because reality, sometimes people grab ahold of the idea, I’m gonna speak only truth and then truth becomes a weapon they use to wound, right? There’s a lot of jerks out there speaking a lot of truth. That’s why we called this message how to speak the truth without being a jerk. Because that’s not what Jesus is calling it he says only truth only in love. How do we do that? Four steps, four practical steps.
Number one, you wanna speak the truth in love? Be slower to speak. That’s step one, be slow to speak. I don’t know about you but I look back on my life I don’t think I’ve ever accidentally or quickly spoken truth in love. I’ve accidentally spoken truth in anger. I’ve quickly spoken untruth in love, I flattered people. But I don’t think I’ve ever accidentally spoken only truth only in love, that takes some deliberation, that takes some time. And so one of our first steps, if we wanna speak only the truth only in love, is to make sure that we’re slow to speak.
James, the brother of Jesus says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this, pay attention. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
And the words that we speak in anger, even if they’re true, rarely produced the righteousness that God desires and the righteousness that we long to see. Jesus said it this way. He says, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” And empty word there sometimes its translated as every careless word. Because the point is, these are words that don’t have substance because they came out too quickly, we didn’t think through them. And that’s kind of an intimidating statement, right?
He says, basically, “Hey, guys, you’re gonna have an awkward conversation with God one day. Based on all the conversations you’ve had with people that came out too quickly, you weren’t careful of that what you’re saying.” He says we’re gonna be held accountable on the Day of Judgment for all those careless words we are speaking. Okay, so what’s the first step in making sure that we speak only the truth only in love? Be slow to speak. Here’s a reality. God talks a lot more, he says a lot more about holding our tongue than speaking our mind. He says a lot more about holding our tongue than speaking our mind. That’s our first step.
Step number two, pretty simple actually. Check your facts. Check your facts. Before you share it, before you speak it, before you email it, before you whatever with it, check your facts, ask the question, is it true? Again, that’s one of the great things about the internet, a lot of these things that circulate, we actually have the ability to look in. There’s things like snopes.com and, and political fact-checkers that allow you to check and make sure that it’s actually true and that, you know, it’s not being exaggerated or taken out of context before we share it. Sometimes it’s not possible. I think a lot of times you can get to clarity on that, but sometimes it’s not. So what happens if something’s come out and you’re like, “Hey that is exactly what I would expect that person to do.” It sounds true, but you can’t confirm whether or not it is, what do you do when you’re not entirely sure if it’s true? See rule number one. Be slow to speak. If you’re not sure it’s true, don’t share it. Don’t propagate it.
Step number three, check your motives. Check your motives ask the question is it kind? Ask why do I wanna say this? Why do I wanna share this? Is this to do damage, is this to undermine somebody’s reputation? Sometimes, you know, we dress it up a little bit, “Well, no, I just want people to know the truth.” No, we don’t. We want people to know the truth about how bad that person is. That we know and everybody else is still they are sheep, right? They don’t see it. We need to be really careful about anything that’s being driven by that kind of a motivation. We ask the question, what’s my motivation? We check our motivation is it kind?
Jesus said a pretty uncomfortable thing. He said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” I don’t like that one. He says the words that come out of our mouths are actually a pretty good indication of what’s going on in our hearts, we can’t always see it. Sometimes in the dark places in our heart stuff brews, we’re not always aware of it, but our words actually give us pretty good insight into what is happening in there. You know, they say the eyes are a window to the soul. I think our words are actually a much clearer window. He says the words that come out, they actually reveal what’s going on inside. And so we need to before the words go out, we look at the words that want to come out and we go, “What is that telling me about what’s going on inside of me?” And honestly, if you’re not sure, because sometimes you’re not, is this is a good motivation, is it bad, is it kind, is it unkind? I’m not sure what it is. What do you do if you’re not sure? See rule number one. Slow your roll, be slow to speak.
Step number four, if you wanna speak only truth only in love, check your messaging, check your messaging, check the way that it’s being said. Unfortunately, in the world that we live in right now, most of our communication is done in a way that it’s difficult sometimes to really get across what we’re trying to say. Because we’re doing so much of it just on text. Anybody ever been misunderstood in a text? Yeah. In an email, on Twitter, on a social post? Because there’s not enough context, you can’t hear tone, there are so many different things. So we got to be extra careful today, to make sure that the message that comes across is what we’re actually trying to communicate.
I love what Proverbs says. Says, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, they’re sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” I love that. Gracious words, words filled with grace. He says words filled with grace they can actually make a difference. When our messaging is full of grace, it actually has the potential to accomplish change in the direction that it actually needs to be accomplished. And, please hear me on this. I am not in any way saying that we need to hold back on speaking truth. Grace always involves truth, you know that? In fact, grace usually involves pretty hard truth. In this thing that we call the Gospel of Grace, it’s built on a hard truth, isn’t it?
The Gospel of Grace says that God loves us so much, that he sent his own Son Jesus to die for our sins. In other words, the Gospel of Grace starts with the understanding that you and I are sinful. That you and I are rebellious. You and I are selfish. That’s hard truth. But you see the grace in it, too. He speaks the hard truth. But then he says, “But he loves us anyway,” so much so that he sent his own Son to die for us. And having raised him from the dead three days later, he offers us forgiveness for all of that sin that separates us from God. He offers us that simply by faith by putting our trust in the truth, the truth that lightens our load more than anything else. Gracious words speak truth, sometimes even hard truth, but they speak it in a way that it can be heard.
So those are our four key steps. Number one, we be slow to speak. Number two, we check the facts. Is it true? Number three, we check our motives, is it kind and number four, we check our messaging, is it gracious? Is it filled with grace? So that hard truth can become a foundation for lightening someone’s load in a significant way. That’s what God calls us to do. He calls us to lighten the load by speaking only truth only in love.
So a couple of questions for you. Number one, where have I weighed down others with untruth? Maybe for you, it’s the tendency to flatter. Speak untruth, but do it kindly. Maybe it’s the tendency to try to help yourself, right. It’s the tendency to speak untruth so that we can get something we think is good for us. Maybe that’s your big temptation place. Or maybe it’s the temptation to hurt others with untruth. There’s an anger or bitterness that’s willing to embrace untruth to do the damage that you want to see done. Where do you find that temptation strongest for you? Where are you weighing others down with untruth?
And the second question is just this. What step do I need to focus on to speak the truth in love? Which step do you need to lean into? Being slower to speak? By the way, if you’re wondering if that’s the step? Yes. That’s probably the step for all of us. Okay. But maybe beyond that it also you need to focus on asking that question, is it true, the check your facts. Or maybe it’s the check your motives, is it kind or maybe it’s the check your messaging, be more careful about how we speak so that grace fills our words. And even when we speak hard truth, we can bring them to healthy places. Could you pray with me?
God, we thank you for your Word. Not an easy Word, but we’re grateful for it. And as your people, as your Holy Spirit moves in us right now, we take a moment to confess our sin of untruth, the different ways that we’ve broken this ninth commandment. We’ve spoken things that weren’t true for a variety of motives, but we acknowledge that we have not attained to that higher standard of speaking only truth only in love and so we confess our sin. We admit we’ve done wrong. And we’re so grateful that as we do that, we have forgiveness. And promises that when we confess our sin when we admit our sin, you are faithful and just and you’ll forgive us our sin and cleanse us from this unrighteousness. So, Lord, we confess it to you and we receive your forgiveness and we thank you for lightening the load. We ask that you transform us from the inside out so that we would be people who speak only truth only in love. Hard truth, yes, but always in love. And Lord, we pray right now for those who are listening to this message that have never embraced the truth of your love for them.
If you’re listening to this message, maybe for the first time today you heard that God loves you in spite of your sin. And the God who wants to lighten your load, he wants to forgive your sin. He’s done everything required to make that happen, he sent his own Son to die for you. He rose from the dead three days later. That is a fact of history. I’ve checked my facts on that. I’m a follower of Jesus because I believe the evidence is so strong that that actually happened. And Jesus offers us forgiveness from our sin, adoption to the family of God, and eternal life simply by putting your trust in what he’s done for us. If you’ve never had your load lightened by putting your trust in Jesus, I wanna encourage you to do that right here right now. You just have a conversation with God you can say it out loud, you can say in your heart, it doesn’t matter. He hears you either way but speaks this truth right now. Say:
God, I’ve sinned, I’ve done wrong. I’m so sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross to pay for my sin. I believe you rose from the dead, that’s the truth. And I’m ready to put my trust in that truth. Jesus, would you lighten my load, forgive my sin, give me a relationship with God. Jesus, I’m gonna follow you from here on out. Amen.