This is the second of a five-part series called “5 Essentials to Healing.”
I remember when a mentor of mine once told me, “You’re a pastor. And you’re an awesome man of God.” Mind you, this was before I ever knew I would become a pastor. No one had ever told me that. Sure I was a good basketball player or a great student in school (when I applied myself), but never a “man of God.” This changed my self-perception. The truth had been spoken over my life and if I would just accept it, lies formerly spoken to me would have to make room for truth.
Another time my mentor said to me, “You’re prideful.” I responded, “No I’m not.” He then said, “Yes you are.” After defending myself for a few more seconds I realized that I was prideful and was illustrating it at that very moment. It was the first time someone had ever said that to me. It turned out to be freeing because now I could identify an issue within that would continue to be a hindrance to me in the future if I didn’t deal with it. Then, an uncle of mine said to me, “You’re too tough on people. And do you know why?” I said, “No.” He said, “Because you’re too tough on yourself.” It blew me away how simple but freeing that statement was even though it stung a bit to hear.
The latter statements do not sound nor feel as good as the former, but they both represent the truth and have brought healing to my life. How so? Well you ask good questions. Healing begins where truth begins to replace the lies that have governed us. The lies we believe foster insecurities, negative self-talk, self-hate, and ultimately a life of sin. We absolutely need love to promote healing, but we also need truth.
There is something freeing about the truth. In John 8:31,32 Jesus says, “If you abide in my word you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” When we dwell on and in the word of God, thus living by it, we are set free from the slavery of lies and sin. Without a doubt, the word of God is the truth that begins healing in our lives because it reveals the truth about the character of God (especially his love), and the truth about ourselves (that we aren’t “all that” like we may think we are).
Just like love described in the first part of this series of blog posts, we tend to be out of balance and get in our own way when it comes to sharing the truth with others to help bring healing in their lives. Many people are good at telling the “positive” truth and never telling a friend some things they may desperately need to hear that may not feel good to listen to. While others will share and overemphasize the “negative” or the “hard” truth they see in people. There must be a balance, but more importantly it should be done with the purpose of edification and healing. Ephesians 4:15 suggest that we are to speak the truth in love. This is especially true for believers. Galatians 6:1 says, “if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual (indwelled or being led by the Holy Spirit) should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” Truth and love together becomes a powerful tool for healing and restoration.
My point is this, to tell someone the truth (graciously and not condemningly), is love, and if it’s love, then it will bring healing. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds of a friend can be trusted; but an enemy multiplies kisses.” You can trust the wounds caused by a friend who cares enough to tell you the truth.
The reason why the truth is so important is because when we hear it and believe it, we come into agreement with God. He wants us to know and to live the truth about ourselves, through a biblical lens, that is affirming and edifying. He also wants us to know the truth about him that would inspire us to draw closer to him in worship exhibited through a life of obedience. Lastly, he wants us to know that tough truth about ourselves that bring us to repentance, which brings our lives into agreement with him. Speaking truth to someone is intended to heal, not hurt.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want someone to perpetually criticize me under the guise of “speaking the truth in love.” However, if you care about me, tell me the truth (in love). Let me sense the love you have for me and I am open to hearing that truth from you. Love me enough to not let me stay in that condition. Affirm the truth about me that is good and the truth about me that stings. Affirm for someone that God not only saved him or her from something, but he also saved him or her for something. If someone you know and love is living in a way that will bring harm to them, love them enough to tell them. Either way, if it’s the truth you speak, I expect healing to be right around the corner.