Monday, May 03, 2010

Truth and Consequences

Telling the truth has consequences, both positive and negative. At least so we are inclined to perceive. However, this is not really true. Is it? Does telling the truth ever have a negative consequence?

Well, the truth can be told in a way that is not in keeping with the truth. Those who live as reconciled to God are moved by the Holy Spirit to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) Such speaking of the truth often has painful effect, but is presented for good and not for evil, for ultimate healing and not for ultimate harm. Such speaking of the truth is not rooted in anger or vindictiveness but in compassion and concern.

The problem is that we are sinners, corrupted through and through according to our sinful nature. This corruption is complete, so that even when we speak the truth in love, our sin shows through. Not only is the sin of the speaker at issue, but also of the hearer.

For someone like me, this makes me hurt when I speak the truth to someone who feels hurt by what I say. Then I examine and reexamine my statement. And even when I am confident that I have spoken the truth, and even when I am confident that I spoke the truth with loving intentions, I still encounter my own sinfulness and weakness.

In the post below in the comments I stated: “It seems to me that in the future I should only make direct reference publicly to posts with which I agree, and address other matters simply as observations. Perhaps this would not give the impression of a personal attack on the writer.”

Sadly, even this is corrupted by sin. Having stated such, having reflected upon it further, I realize that I am shrinking back on account of my own feelings of pain. I hate pain. I hate knowing that in some way I have caused pain, especially to someone for whom I care deeply. And since love is the motivation for speaking the painful truth, the hurting person’s pain makes me hurt. My own sinful nature leaves me always in doubt as to the pureness of my motivation. The fact is that I can never claim pureness of my thoughts, words, and deeds.

I must always confess sin and look to my God and Savior for absolution, even concerning what I count as my best efforts. And this is the reason that a Christian addresses painful issues with others, that they may hear of their need for God’s healing forgiveness and walk in the freedom of the truth. Therefore, how can one who walks in the love of Christ remain silent about matters of spiritual concern? How can one comment only on things with which he agrees? Will the love of God remain silent in the face of that which needs to be confronted?

In matters such as this, Luther’s response was that one must act in accord with one’s Spirit guided conscience and sin boldly. One must acknowledge that in this corrupt and evil generation that all of our actions according to their own merit are sinful, and therefore that one must go ahead and act in accord with one’s conscience even though the stain of sin will still show through in even the actions that flow from the best of intentions.

Thus my conclusion is that I must continue to post regarding those things that I believe are wrong as well as those things with which I agree, but that I very much need always to challenge my motives and my words. Love does not stand by silently observing that which is harmful and destructive. Yet neither does love speak out without taking into account how the words may be received. Love cares regarding both matters.

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