Why We Need to Speak the Truth in Love

By Chip Ingram

Some of the best, deepest, and closest friends that I’ve ever had have one thing in common. They all have loved me enough to tell me things about my life even if it put our relationship on the line.

I can think of several of these types of encounters that changed the entire course of my life because a friend spoke the truth to me. One of them was when I was a Christian for only about a year.

I had a lot of struggles, and I had just gotten involved in a relationship with a non-Christian. It was going in a direction that wasn’t healthy, and it wasn’t honoring God. Then one day, as I was leaving a Bible study, my friend Jerry took me aside and put his arm around me while he turned to 2 Corinthians 6:14, where it says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” 

At first, I thought, “Who are you to tell me who I can date and who I can’t? I don’t appreciate it!” But later, when I got alone and I prayed about it, I realized that he was right. I shudder to think of where I would have been if I had stayed in that relationship.

Proverbs 27:5-6 says, Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”

When Jesus talked about how we’re to “love one another,” he said that we’re to honor one another, care for one another, and admonish one another. Yet admonishing one another is probably the most neglected, most misunderstood, least practiced, and the most needed course of action in the body of Christ.

Sometimes, we think that admonishing means to judge someone’s life when it doesn’t meet our standards. But admonishing is not the same as judging one another’s life when we have a difference of opinion.

Admonishing is instructing someone specifically about a specific area that doesn’t line up with what is clearly God’s will. It’s saying to a friend, “I care enough about you that I would like to open the Scriptures and help you align your life in a way that it would be pleasing to God.”

The purpose of admonishment is so that we can get God’s very best and become all that God wants us to become. It should always stem from our love and concern for another.

Why must we admonish one another?  What if we don’t want to do this because it’s uncomfortable?

First, it’s a command.

Colossians 3:16 says: Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

The second reason is because we all have blind spots.

In Psalm 19, David prays and says, “O God, forgive me for all my sins,” and then he says, “and those sins I don’t know about, those presumptuous ones, those ones that I don’t even know I have, forgive those too.” (v. 13)

The third reason is so that we can become godly, holy, mature Christians.

Colossians 1:28 says, “And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man, that we might present every man, every woman, every person complete in Christ.”

As believers, we’re to proclaim God’s word to unbelievers. Then once a person comes to know Christ, we’re to teach God’s word and instruct. Finally, we’re to admonish by instructing and correcting. Why? We’ll never become mature if we’re not admonished.

So, how do we do it?

First, examine your own life. Get before God, get alone and get your Bible open. Say, “God, if there is something that I need to address before I talk with them, show me.” Sit quietly, He’ll show you.

Second, examine the Word. Whatever the issue is, don’t go to people with something vague. The authority is not you and your opinions. The authority is Scripture.

Third, examine your motives. On our staff we have a little saying: “If you can’t say it in love, don’t say it. Keep praying until you can.” That doesn’t mean you get off the hook.

Done biblically, speaking the truth to someone is the most loving thing you can ever do. So what about you? Is there someone in your life who needs to hear a word from God through you?

If you would like to explore this topic more in depth, take a look at Chip’s series: Love One Another, True Spirituality, or Spiritual Simplicity.  

Written By

Chip Ingram

Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge

Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.

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