Sunday morning I woke up to an interesting Facebook private message. Among other things, the message proceeded to inform me how wrong I was about racism in this country. It also informed me that I am in no position to teach God’s people and that I am like a wave tossed to and fro. The word I am putting out there is muckier than anything the author of this lovely message has seen in a long time. My Facebook “friend” also pointed out, “I know the things you are struggling with at home Chris, and I can see why you are hollering love love with no apparent judgment or consequence. I believe there are also things you have not come to terms with in your past especially sexually with your addiction and other things you may not want to look at.”
Here is the kicker. The last sentence, “I had to share my heart in love with you bro, because I care.”
In the past, this would have bothered me greatly. I would have most likely responded directly attempting to defend my beliefs and debate my convictions until one of us was tired of arguing. Instead, I didn’t reply at all.
I wanted to share this with you as a warning. Just because someone says they are speaking the truth in love doesn’t make it so. In fact, most times it’s just self-righteous motive dripping with religious and Christianese language.
Here are five things to look out for.
1 – God will never bring up your past.
Most of you know by now that I was addicted to pornography for 33 years. It infected the first 17 years of my marriage, nearly resulting in separation/divorce. A little over a year ago, God completely freed me from its clutches and that junk hasn’t called my name since. He made me completely new and has restored my marriage. Why would God, through the words of someone else, throw that in my face and say there were still things I’m dealing with? He wouldn’t. My past is exactly that, my past. It’s history. It’s done. Finished. No longer relevant.
2 – They will say you can’t just talk about love.
Some of the most hateful, religious backlash I’ve received is when I talk about God’s love. It never ceases to amaze me. Of course, I never get that kind of reaction from the lost. When I was at the lowest, darkest point in my life, God reached down and pulled me out. It was His love that completely wrecked my world and brought me to repentance. The entire Bible points us to love. God is love. Above all else, put on love. The goal of our instruction is love. Love one another. If you don’t love, you don’t know God. It’s all about love, my friends. It always has been, it always will be, and I will never stop talking about it.
3 – They will tell you to sit under an experienced Christian.
Yes, this was included in the message to me as well. When someone doesn’t agree with you, they make it known you should be sitting under or at least be discipled by an elder in the faith. While there is most certainly a time and place to gain wisdom from our elders, ultimately, it’s Jesus who is the head. The holy spirit is perfectly able to guide us into all truth. What someone usually means by this is that they don’t like your message, and you need to be cloned by someone who has more experience in the Word. I’m pretty sure if the same power that raised Christ from the dead resides in me, it’s powerful enough to teach me.
4 – If they have no voice in your life, they have no authority to correct.
If someone is constantly attacking your beliefs and convictions, always trying to prove you wrong, they have relinquished any right to speak into your life. I find it strange people even attempt to do this. To constantly go after someone and then suddenly “speak the truth in love.” It’s ridiculous, to put it bluntly. I would never, ever be so arrogant as to think I have the authority to counsel anyone if I have no sincere relationship with them. Unless the motive is pure love, correction has no place in a conversation.
5 – A sincere word from God will never bring condemnation.
Ephesians 4 talks about the gifts in the body and the line, “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” Speaking the truth in love will never bring shame, condemnation, or guilt. It will only edify the person being spoken to. It will speak to their true identity and created value. It will build someone up, not belittle or tear them down. It will not point a finger at wrong-doing, but will ultimately point them to Jesus. So, if someone isn’t speaking life, they aren’t speaking from God. Period.
I pray this list will help you identity someone’s motive when they are “speaking the truth in love.” As I always say, anytime I share my beliefs or convictions, please don’t automatically assume they are truth. Take these things before God in the secret place and allow Him to teach you. You are the steward of your own heart. Not me.