Tony Evans - The Communication of Truth
God has two posts when it comes to your maturity and my maturity and how the church should function when it comes to our communication. Those two posts are given for us in Ephesians chapter 4. He says in verse 14, "As a result, we are no longer to be children tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, but by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects unto him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body being fitted and held together by that which every join supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love". He says if we are going to be built up, if we're going to grow up, if we're going to make it to maturity as Christians, we must speak the truth in love.
The two posts that is responsible for your maturity and your influence in the lives of other believers is to communicate, speak truth in love. The two posts are truth and love that surround our communication as Christians. Truth refers to the content. Love refers to the motivation and methodology. We are to speak truth with an attitude of love. We're not to defer to one versus the other, because these two posts that stand side by side become the determining factor of whether you scored in terms of your own spiritual growth and spiritual influence. Paul's concern here is the maturity of Christians. He wants us to, what he says, grow up. Because the reality is that many Christians never grow up. The Bible declares that a person's speech demonstrates their spiritual maturity or immaturity.
James chapter 1, verse 26, he puts it this way. He says, "If anyone thinks himself to be religious and yet does not bridle his tongue, he deceives his own heart". You can't control your tongue, he says, because you're not mature yet. You don't know what to say, when to say it, and how it should be said, either 'cause you're not telling the truth or you're not telling the truth in the right way. And it speaks, he says, to your spiritual immaturity. He says that we are to be engaged with one another, because he says this happens by that which every joint supplies, that is every Christian is to participate in ministering to others with the truth in an attitude of love.
So, it's not just about you hearing the truth. It's about you ministering with the truth. We're living in a day of self-service Christians. They want worship selfish, not worship service, because they don't understand that the church is not just here so that you can be blessed. It's here so also you can be a blessing, and you'll see that worked out a little bit more. But the goal of it, the goal of my speaking to you and your speaking to one another is to speak truth with love, because that is the only environment in which God will grow us.
Let me say a word about this growing up, which is to be accomplished through speaking the truth in love. Maturity in the Bible means to become an adult Christian, no longer a baby Christian. And you become an adult Christian when your decision-making is consistently influenced by the Word and the will of God. In other words, you're consistently deciding things from a spiritual rather than a secular perspective, where God's point of view has been normalized in your decision-making. We don't do it perfectly, but we should be increasingly doing it consistently. So, if you're consistently approaching decisions from a non-Christian point of view, it is because you lack spiritual discernment, and the spiritual perspective is not prioritized in the decisions being made. That is how you can practically know whether you are growing up.
So, spiritual maturity has to do with decision-making, and what God is after is that the thing that should define the church is that it is maturing, and one of the ways that that happens, he says, is speaking the truth in love. Now, in verse 11, he's talked about God giving leaders to lead in this, but verse 12 he says is for the equipping of the saints for the work of service in the building up of the body of Christ. So, the body of Christ is not just built up from the pulpit to the pew. It's built up from the pew to the pew, he says, by that which every joint supplies. He says we are to speak the truth in love if maturity is going to take place, and he says in verse 16, "from whom the whole body being fitted together from that which every joint supplies".
Colossians 1:28 says we are to present every member mature, so no member is to get away with not growing. You don't join the church for the preacher. You don't join the church for the music. Those are important. You join the church to grow. He says that you might grow up. That is where you grow in your ability to make spiritual decisions on a consistent basis. So, we are to speak the truth. What is truth? An absolute standard by which reality is measured, or to put it more commonly, God's view on any subject. On any subject, that's the truth. So, this brings up the matter of the tongue, because that's how we speak. We speak the truth with love, because God uses the tongue as a measuring stick of how you are growing.
Let me say that again. James chapter 3, verse 2, let me read it to you. He says this, "For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect, that is a mature man able to bridle the whole body as well". In other words, if you want to see how the rest of you is doing, look at how your mouth is doing. 'Cause he says your mouth is a gauge of how messed up or how grown up the rest of you happens to be. That is if you still cussing as much now as you did a year ago, if you're still as profane now as you used to be three years ago, that means not only have you not grown in your speech, there are other parts of your body that's messed up, too. We live in a world of putrid speech, of hateful communication.
Look at some of the things that people are saying about one another and to one another on social media. And Christians are getting caught up in this, too; and as we get caught up in it, too, it not only shows our lack of maturity, it explains our lack of impact. Look at what he says in Ephesians 4, verse 29. "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification," that means to build up, "according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God". How do you make the Holy Spirit sad? He says by unwholesome words, words designed to hurt and destroy, not heal and help. Speak the truth in love. He says that is to be our orientation.
Proverbs 10, verse 11, says that "The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life". I mean, we all know words carry weight. We listen to politicians speak, and they affect whether we agree or don't agree with the policy, whether we want to vote for them or not. Trust me, words matter. So, our communication is absolutely critical. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says that our communication should bring help and encouragement and admonishment to people. So, the first thing we need to do is speak the truth. We are people of the truth. You are to speak the truth, God's perspective on a matter, and you are to speak it, the other Christians should hear from you the truth. The truth doesn't just come, and it should come from the pulpit, but it comes from believer to believer, saint to saint.
That's what you do. That's how we encourage one another. That's why you've got all these one anothers in Scripture. Build up one another, care for one another, connect with one another, share with one another, welcome one another, greet one another. You've got all these one anothers because growth happens in horizontal relationships, not just in vertical ones. So, God wants you to be part of a church, so you can be spoken to and so that you can speak. So, the mouth is a powerful thing when it comes to the truth, but it can also be a tool of transformation, a tool of impact, if you are committed to the truth. And you're not helping your children when you don't deal with them in truth, and you're not helping God's children when you don't deal with them in truth.
The person needs to be corrected, they need to hear the truth; but we are not only to speak the truth, we are to speak the truth in love. Truth must be balanced with love. One of the great attributes of God is he is love. Love is the decision to compassionately, righteously, and responsibly seek the well-being of another. Key phrase: "Love is the decision". How do I know love is a decision? Because it's commanded. So, we are to speak the truth in such a way that the person we're speaking to knows that we're doing this seeking their best. Speak the truth in love. It's a communication factor. So, here's what you need to know. Love does not tolerate all views.
Let me say that again. Love does not tolerate all views. In fact, and that's why people gonna call you names. They're gonna say you're intolerant. We love all people. We do not love all ideas. Let me say that again. We love all people, but what we don't do is love all ideas. God makes a difference between the sin and the sinner. He loves the sinner. He does not love the sin. And he does not conflate the two to be the same thing, that because I love the sinner, I must accept the sin. Absolutely not. Loving your child doesn't mean accepting the wrong that your child does. You make a distinction between their action and their personhood. We are to love the immoral person. We're not to love the immorality. We are to love the racist. We're not to love racism. We are to speak the truth in such a way that people know we care about their well-being.
Failure to do this, failure to love like this, look at 2 John. If you turn Your Bible too fast, you're gonna miss it, one of the short post cards in the Bible. The first 6 verses, I'll just read parts of them. He says, "To the chosen lady whom I love in truth; not only I, but also all who know the truth". So, he says, "I love in truth, and I know the truth". Verse 2, for the sake of the truth. Verse 3, the Son of the Father in truth and love. Verse 4, walking in truth. Verse 5, that we love one another. And this is love when we walk according to his commandment, truth. He says walk in truth and love over and over again in those first 6 verses. And to walk means this is how you roll. This is who you are.
If people gonna deal with you, they've gotta deal with truth and love. They don't have to choose between truth or love, because when they roll with you, they gonna run into truth and love. You gonna tell them the truth, based on God's point of view, and they're gonna know you care. Speak the truth in love. Be absolutely clear about the right perspective, but that person ought to know it's coming from a decision to care and make something right. God will use your tongue and how you handle the truth in love to determine how much of God you get to experience. Well, they're perks, they're perks.
Let me show you a few of them in 1 John, chapter 4. Let me read it. Verse 7, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God". Verse 8, "One who does not love does not know God, for God is love". Verse 12, "No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us". Verse 16, "We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him". So, here it is. When we deal with the truth the right way, in love, because God is love, he reveals more of himself to you. The word "knows," he knows God, 'cause he's talking to Christians. He's talking about a greater experience with God. He's not talking about informational knowledge. He's talking about experiencing more of God's love.
So, if you need more of God's love for you, you'd better show more of God's love for somebody else. So, the first perk, benefit that you get is that God says, "You will get more of me operating for you," but that's not the only perk. He's gonna let some of himself flow more readily. Let me show you something else. 1 John chapter 3, verse 18, "Little children", so he's talking to Christians, "let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth", okay? "We will know by this, that we are of the truth, and will assure our hearts before him" So, he's bringing truth and love together again, "in whatever our hearts condemn us, for God is greater than our hearts and knows all things. Love, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God". Now watch this. "And whatever we ask, we receive from him because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing to him".
Guess what he says. He says if you are speaking the truth in love, more of your prayers get answered. Wow. If you're speaking the truth, 'cause he speaks of truth in love, you're reflecting him, and now he's more attuned to your prayers. One of the best ways to get prayers answered is to speak the truth in love. That means you cannot be a siloed Christian, can't be a stay-at-home saint. And I don't mean just coming to the sanctuary. I'm talking about involved in the life of ministry, where you're touching people, people are touching you, you're serving, people are serving you, but you are connected so that you know them well enough to know when the truth is needed and when they need to be spoken to. You can't do that if you're not around anybody.
When you're involved in the lives of people, people are involved in your life to speak the truth in love, 'cause we're people of the truth, but we're doing it out of concern and well-being, not of vitriol and mean spiritedness. Look at what he says in chapter 4, verse 17: "By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world". Every believer will stand before the Lord for a review of your life from the point of your salvation to the point of your death or to the return of Christ, whichever comes first. You and Jesus are gonna be in a room together, and he's gonna play the tape. He's gonna play the tape. This is the tape of your life: words, thoughts, and deeds. Okay?
So, you're going for a Christian review. The Bible calls that the judgment seat of Christ. At the judgment seat of Christ, it will be determined what things are rewardable and what things are to be rejected, what things are rewardable because it was in the will of God, for the glory of God, in service to the people of God; in other words, what God could use will be rewardable. What God could not use, because it was sinful, because it was done with the wrong motive, because it involved the wrong speech, will be discarded. A separation will be made. 1 Corinthians 3 talks about this separation: gold, silver, precious stone, wood, hay, and stubble. Separation occurs. What God can use will be rewarded; what God could not use will be discarded.
The Bible talks about there being shame at the judgment seat of Christ. We've little to show for God's glory or for the impact that we were created to make, once we were converted. But he says, he gives a provisor. He says in verse 17, "By this, love is perfected, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment". So, you're sitting there with Jesus Christ. You're reviewing the tape of your life. This is discarded. This can be kept. But things are out of balance. You see, you failed a lot more than you succeeded. You see that there was so many years wasted in your Christian life, so many years that you drifted him, or you got involved in sin, or you just got passive as a Christian, and it doesn't look good for you. But then he says in verse 17, "By this, you can have confidence".
In other words, you know, when tax time comes, you make deductions, and you make deductions based on charitable giving. So, you've given so much money to the church, or to some Christian group, or to a 501(c)(3), an agency of somehow, and you get credit for a certain amount of deductions, because you gave to help somebody else. So, they'll give you credit for that. God has an extra credit program. His extra credit program is "How much of my love did you share with somebody else? How many people did you come alongside with the truth done in a right way? How many people did you try to help"? And he will allow deductions against failures at the judgment seat of Christ.
It says this in James chapter 2, verse 13, he says, "Where you showed mercy, I'll show mercy to you. I will create a deduction". So, the good news is if you've got a bad history up till now, in speaking the truth in love, you can bounce back to some degree if you will get involved with speaking the truth and loving everybody you come up with, with the truth, not with false sympathy. And the one thing that should mark our church and any church is you come in here to find the truth, but you also come in here to show the love. And when you bring the truth and love together, you done hit the uprights, and they gonna say, "It's all good".
When it comes to communicating truth, God wants it communicated in a specific kind of way. You can actually communicate truth to harm. He wants us to communicate it to good, and that means communicating it in love. And love is the decision to compassionately, righteously, and yet responsibly seek the well-being of another. The issue when you communicate truth is are you doing it in a way that builds a person up versus tearing a person down. Only when we're communicating God's truth God's way will it have God's benefit. Communicate truth in love.