one of my friends asked me the following question the other day:
Is there a line between honesty and just plain meanness?
i thought it was a good question and i gave them my opinion. i decided to post it here too.
i believe honesty/truth becomes mean when there’s no redemptive purpose and love in it, but i think that’s only one of the main problems. the other (and probably the bigger) issue is timeliness.
proverbs 15:33 says:
a man has joy by the answer of his mouth and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!
the thing about truth is that people have to open to it. if their hearts aren’t open to receive it, it produces no fruit. and if it doesn’t produce anything then it was a waste of words (a waste of seed). although there are side benefits to saying the truth to everyone about everything…i don’t think it justifies letting the truth fall on deaf ears.
isaiah 6:8-13 says (btw…Jesus used this scripture Himself):
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “For how long, O Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
understand that isaiah speaking forth the truth of God to people with deaf ears was an act of judgment on God’s part. there are times i feel i have to warn people…but i’ve seen times where i’ve actually made them worse off…cause now they’re no longer ignorant. it is better not to know the truth than to know it and not obey it.
so what then? do we stop speaking truth at all? by no means. but we must be prayful and sensitive about it. something my pastor’s wife talks about is “wisely picking your battles”. there are people who are so deceived that i’ve seen her not say anything to them about their deception. she understands that she can’t just say anything to anyone at anytime. the best thing we can do is pray for a long time before we ever approach them to tell them the truth. i love what my friend mark says:
i don’t normally give people a corrective word without praying for them and the word for two weeks.
that gives God and us time to make sure the emotion of the word comes out right and to get any logs out of our eyes.
final thought…there is a church here in deland that stands downtown and tell people the “truth” (the “you are a sinner and going to hell” stuff) and if you ask them they’ll tell you they truly care about the people they’re preaching to…they really don’t want them to go to hell. so why doesn’t it feel like it’s right? could it be that no one is open to it and therefore all it causes is contention?
what do you think about the timeliness of truth? is it destructive for people to hear the truth without being open to it? why or why not? besides speaking in love and timeliness, are there any other things we must be careful of when telling the truth?