“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
Last week we talked about how God meets us with truth and grace. This week we’ll discuss how we meet the world with God’s truth and grace. This is a difficult challenge for most of us because we either stand on truth and forget about grace or we hand out grace without the foundation of truth.
To follow Jesus and live by His example, we must learn to stand on the truth and speak the truth while extending grace and love in the process. This will look different to each of us at different times and in different situations.
- It may look like forgiving a loved one who betrayed you while not excusing, condoning, or enabling the behavior in the future.
- It may be lovingly telling a friend or family member the truth about the negative impact their willful sin may have upon them and their relationship with God. This comes with the risk that they will reject not only your counsel but your relationship.
- It may include being ridiculed, misunderstood, and rejected because you stand on the truth of God rather than bend to the whims of society.
- It will likely involve turning the other cheek and loving those who hurt you, praying for those who persecute you, and blessing those who curse you.
That’s a bleak picture. But it isn’t the end. Because when our speech is full of grace seasoned with salt (truth), we will also see lives changed. People caught in the chains of sin will be set free. The lost will be found. The hopeless will find hope.
We must remember that we cannot do this on our own. We must call on the Holy Spirit to guide us carefully through this process or we will fail to exhibit love and grace OR we will fail to speak truth. Speaking truth in love requires that we first love the person we are talking to; if we don’t, our words will ring of condemnation with no grace, no opportunity for restoration.
We reach others by showing grace, love, and compassion first. A hard truth must never be sacrificed for an easy lie. But a hard truth not wrapped in grace and the redemptive love of Christ will land like a hammer rather than envelop like a hug.
Luke cautions us against confronting others with their sins if we have not first examined our own hearts. “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:42)
It is important that we determine the motives in our own hearts before attempting to delve into the lives of others. If we aren’t willing to examine the specks and planks in our own eyes, we shouldn’t be quick to try to remove them from the eyes or our brothers and sisters.
Here are a few steps we can take to make sure we are ready to speak to others with truth and grace. This can include times when you’ve been wronged by others and also times when you feel led to begin a hard conversation about a sensitive subject. There may, of course, be moments when you are called to respond immediately; the key is to always listen to God’s leading.
1. Get honest with God
- Tell Him how hurt or angry you feel. Be completely honest and let it all out TO GOD. You may need to talk and pray this through with a trusted friend, but this is not the time to vent to anyone and everyone who will listen.
- Talk to Him about your concerns for the other person.
- Express your fears, worry, pain, and confusion. Do not hold back.
2. Seek truth
- Now ask God to reveal His truth to you.
- Let Him begin working on your healing by first showing you the truth about the root of your pain.
- Ask Him to show you any flaws in your thinking on the subject or in this situation.
- Be willing to be wrong or to let God correct misconceptions or errors.
- Be a truth seeker in this phase. Make sure your foundation is sure before moving on.
3. Wrap yourself in grace
- It’s time to fill up on God’s love and let it flow into every inch of your mind and heart in this situation.
- You may need to seek compassion for the person who hurt you. You may need to ask God to show you the situation from their perspective.
- Ask God to give you a heart full of love and an understanding of them that goes beyond your own knowledge.
4. Surrender to God’s will
- Turn it over to God and let Him guide you through the next steps.
- Wait until you hear from Him before taking any action.
- Act when you do hear from Him.
- Let God lead through each step. The time to initiate a tough conversation may not be now, after all He’s not just working on your heart, He’s working on theirs too.
- Be prepared to do something difficult. That may be waiting, or it may be following God’s lead to begin that conversation.
5. Speak with grace and truth
- Follow God’s lead.
- Lead with love.
- Stand on truth.
- If things go awry, run to God, and keep on loving them through it. If things go well, praise God for His mercy and grace.
And as a final reminder. Some people plant, some water, but it is God who gives the increase. If you don’t see immediate results in your heart or the hearts of others, give it time and let God continue to do His work.
May our speech always spark conversations filled with grace and truth.