I have a confession, I’m not always agreeable… I’m sometimes too feisty, too opinionated, too willing to get into it with others, and too eager to get my own sometimes narrow-minded point across – at whatever the cost. I used to be like this more often, I’m so thankful I’ve grown in this area – but the tendency is still there.
Obviously, this is not good. Not only is this not effective, I’ve found that when I’m acting in this particular way, it’s because I’m acting in pride. That’s a hard pill to swallow. Yuck, it’s hard to look at ourselves realistically right? And yet, if we have any hope of growing and becoming better people, we’d better take a critical look at our own actions, our own behaviors, our choices of words.
Years ago I met a girl who was the exact opposite of this, she had the gift of speaking Truth in beauty & love – the way it’s intended to be spoken in. She had strong opinions, but boy were they tempered with a sweetness and childlike joy – you didn’t even care that she disagreed with you so much that you just hoped she would stay in your presence for a while longer. She shed light wherever she went, and from knowing her through a work relationship, I can confidently say this was her personality. She had a strong relationship with God, and credited her marvelous display of the Fruits of the Spirit to God who had changed her, worked on her, and revealed to her how to truly love others.
Speaking in Truth is not intended to be condemning or judgmental:
“Do not judge others, and you yourself will not be judged.” – Jesus (Matthew 7:1)
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” – Jesus (Luke 6:37)
You cannot lovingly speak the truth to anyone without first having ingrained in your speech and mindset the fruits of the Spirit (Galations 5:23):
To speak in Truth without provoking people, you must have these mastered – really… they all combine and flow out of each other:
1. When trying to teach someone or get a point across, you will be much more effective if you truly love that person. Instead of judgment and condemnation, you will use grace, gentle correction, and constructive, loving criticism.
2. You’ll be more effective if you already have childlike joy in your heart and a positive, optimistic outlook on life. When you view life through the lens of Joy, you are not easily tempted to criticize or condemn others.
3. You’ll be more effective if you know in your heart, the peace that surpasses understanding – you won’t get riled up or so easily offended, even when people criticize you – the peace you have gives you new perspective.
4.Patience for others completely changes your outlook on criticism, you’re much less likely to condemn or judge another when you have true patience in your spirit, you understand that they may not be where they should be at the time, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. Patience or long-suffering, provides you with the ability to not write others off as lost causes. Patience allows you to withhold your judgment because you have faith in them and ultimately in God’s ability to work on their heart in time. Patience allows you to show love to someone in sin, not because they deserve it, but because God models this love and patience us first. We love because He first loved us.
5. You’ll be more effective if your words are tempered with kindness. What is the opposite of kindness? Perhaps harshness. No where are we commanded to be harsh with others, but we are commanded to be kind.
You cannot be judgmental and condemning of another and their, sin and also come across as kind. This is not to say that correction and constructive criticism has no place in Christianity – quite the contrary! We are supposed to correct each other, but biblical correction is not judgment or condemnation, and biblically it is supposed to take place in private first, coming from a well-known friend.
6. You’ll be more effective if you have goodness emanating from your spirit. Goodness defined is “pleasant, kindness, the full measure of something.” The way to know if you have true goodness is to look at what comes out of you when you’re pressed & stressed. What words do you speak? What do your actions tell you about the state of your heart? If you don’t have goodness in place in your own heart, what right do you have to condemn others?
7. You’ll be more effective if you have faithfulness as an attitude toward others – you’re faithful to them – and an action. You are much more effective in speaking truth to others when you exhibit unwavering faithfulness to their ultimate good and spiritual growth. People can tell a fake – Generation Y and younger are especially adept at smelling fakes and posers, and it disgusts them! True faithfulness exhibited in care for another’s well-being touches hearts – Jesus showed true faithfulness to many people, which is why He was so radical in His love… why His movement was so acknowledged.
8. You cannot be condemning and judgmental and also possess Gentleness. You can constructively and gently correct another, but gentleness and condemnation do not go together.
9. Self-Control. This is the hardest of all the fruits of the Spirit, and yet if you don’t have self-control, you won’t be able to exhibit any of the other fruits in the heat of the moment. I think this is the most crucial of the fruits… if you can’t control yourself, how do ever expect to reach others without provoking them to Christianity. Many have left or are totally repulsed by the church because Christians who meant well, lacked total self-control.
Self-control makes you think before you blurt out anything. It helps you to not say something that you’d later regret. It helps you to calmly seek out what would be the best way to get your point and purpose across – for each individual person. Jesus interacted differently with different people, even when He was angry He exhibited self-control (He had the power to kill people on the spot, yet He never abused His divine powers).