How Do You Speak Truth with Love and Compassion?

compassion-love
How do you speak God’s truth with love and compassion? (Getty Images)

How this concept manifests can be puzzling.

Shawn A. Akers

I love to read Dr. Michael Brown’s columns and to listen to his radio show. He is a man of great moral conviction and, I believe, like David, he is a man after God’s own heart.

Dr. Brown addresses today’s cultural issues from a biblical standpoint. Today’s edition of In the Line of Fire titled “Free Speech: Use it or Lose It,” is a great example of his wonderful insight into the problems we face every day in this country. Whether many want to face it or not, we, as conservatives, are indeed losing our ability to speak our minds and our hearts as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.

Dr. Brown tells us that, “For many years I’ve said that, when it comes to America, I’m more concerned with the absence of light than with the presence of darkness. In the same way, I’m more concerned with our failure to speak freely than with those who are trying to silence us.”

Dr. Brown goes on to say, “Why must we dance around these issues with the constant fear of stepping on people’s toes? How can we possibly take gospel-worthy stands if we are such people pleasers? … And what about those who are not preaching behind pulpits or speaking over the airwaves? Who’s stopping us from speaking the truth in love on our social media outlets? … Why don’t we share our faith and our convictions more clearly and boldly and publicly?”

My concern with Dr. Brown and others like him is that he is telling us to speak the truth—the truth of God’s Word—with love and compassion, but he is not telling us how to do it.

Yes, believers must speak with authority and with the direction of the Holy Spirit when we are addressing such issues. But, don’t you think non-believers and carnal Christians have heard just about everything we have to say already? Most likely, they already feel like we’ve beaten them over the head with a club a hundred times.

Dr. Brown says, “I’m all for being sensitive and compassionate. I’m all for using wisdom. But true compassion speaks the truth. Love warns. Wisdom doesn’t waver.”

All true. But how is that manifested in the natural realm, sensitively and compassionately?

Instead of telling them for the 101st time that homosexuality is sin or abortion is murder, shouldn’t we take another approach? Shouldn’t we simply say, “You know how I feel about it and what God’s Word says. The way you feel about it is between you and God?”

Yes, we can repent and God in His mercy will eagerly forgive us. But what do you say to a person who doesn’t believe he or she needs forgiveness for their actions? How can we bridge this gap and truly penetrate souls for the kingdom?

One day, we all will be judged. ALL of us. I won’t be held accountable for what you say and do, only for what I say and do. That thought is daunting enough.

We cannot change other people or their hearts; only God can. Your own efforts to do so will be futile.

When we repent, God, in His mercy, will eagerly forgive us. But what do you say to a person who doesn’t believe he or she needs forgiveness for their words and actions? How can we bridge this gap and truly penetrate souls for God’s kingdom?

This thought may be old school, but the biggest impact on others’ lives is the example you set. Are you completely sold out to Jesus and living your life by His Word, or do you constantly compromise to the world’s standards? Do you have the mind of Christ?

“Be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).

I am interested to know what you think. Am I missing something? Is there some simple answer about how to speak the truth with compassion? I have sought the answer in genuine and ardent prayer, and opened my mind to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. I would also love to hear your thoughts and what He has told you.

And remember to do something today to rise up higher in your kingdom calling.

Step Out of the Boat is a ministry created by Charisma Media Content Development Editor Shawn A. Akers and dedicated to help Christ followers to become spiritual champions and come to a more intimate relationship with Jesus. With its articles, podcasts and other forms of media, Step Out of the Boat encourages Christ followers to daily reach to a higher level in their calling. Shawn is a 35-year veteran sportswriter, a published poet and he published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read his blog here. You can also listen to his podcasts, the Javelin Sports Show, on the Charisma Podcast Network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “How Do You Speak Truth with Love and Compassion?”

  1. Great conversation. Two books have been a huge influence on the way that I live out, and communicate truth.
    You Can Change- Tim Chester
    Gospel Fluency- Jeff Vanderstelt.

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  2. I really love this, brother. It’s true that churches often settle for telling you “what” to do without teaching “how” to do it. There’s a severe lack of practical discipleship – it’s all about pounding head knowledge into people instead of launching them into Kingdom service doing real work meeting real needs affecting real people in a tangible way that convinces them that Gospel is in everyone’s best interest.
    You make a very important point that I like to point out in another way – with millions of people leaving church, we often ask them “Why don’t you attend anymore?” Story after story, complaint after complaint shows the same thing. The problem in churches today is not that they’ve slacked on their standards – they still preach truth. The problem is that they no longer practice grace.
    Like you, I’d warn Christians to show more grace, more unity, more love especially toward those sins and sinners that get a Christian taboo around them. They already know we don’t agree – but we have sin in our own lives that God doesn’t agree with, that other Christians don’t agree with – and we’re still allowed to be part of the Church. The fact is, we need to be more gracious toward sinners, doing everything possible to bring them to God – and God is big enough to convict them of their sins, once we’ve let them know like you say, “You know where I stand on this – but it doesn’t disqualify you from being with me.” Because that’s exactly what God says. “You know where I stand on your sins – but they don’t disqualify you from being with me. I paid for that.”

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    1. Thank you so much, Jared. Excellent points, for sure. It’s just hard because, no, you don’t want to coddle people and enable them in their sin. That’s the last thing you want to do. But how do you tell them the truth without turning them off completely? It’s like the whole issue with same-sex marriage. They already know I don’t condone their lifestyle. But I also look at it this way. It’s the law of the land and in America, you should be able to be free to do what you want or say as long as it’s legal. Whether that’s appropriate or not, that’s between you and your savior. You have to figure that out, and God will certainly call you on it when you stand before Him — if you have not repented and asked for forgiveness. A great deal of unbelievers already know what the Bible says. We simply must encourage them and let them know we love them. Like you said, “it doesn’t disqualify you from being with me.” Well said, my brother, well said.

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      1. It’s definitely a balancing game. Another of the many complicating factors is “community” – there is a place for us taking responsibility for what others in our community do. Such is the story of Achan in Joshua, such is the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts. We live in a very individualist culture that says, “Live and let live” – but God has often judged people for what their neighbors do. We are complicit in that which we ignore.
        We could argue that America is not a Christian nation, nor was it founded to be one, though. So possibly your and my approach, of love while clarifying, applies in any non-Christian nation.
        Someone who believes we are or should be a “Christian nation” might logically conclude they have a God-imposed obligation to legislate their morality against others. Possibly that’s where some confusion comes in!

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  3. I think you and Jared touched on the answer Shawn. How exactly did Jesus preach the truth with compassion? Did he mince words? Did he say to them “you know how I feel about it”?

    No.

    He ministered to their needs. He fed them. He healed them. Then he spoke truth into their lives. He was the ultimate example of servant leadership and we would do well to follow his lead above all others.

    As you stated our lives MUST be an example of servanthood, gentleness and love… and when the questions come… what do we believe? We deliver the straight truth.

    Jesus would say things like: Go and Sin no more. That’s pretty blunt and straight forward. No icing on that statement. With the woman at the well, he called out her lifestyle. He didn’t dance around the issue.

    By definition the word of God IS Love, the Gospel IS Love.

    So in the end, let’s all just be like Jesus.

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