Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the Head, even Christ. (NASB)
In every interaction that we enter into; in every attempt that we make to negotiate and reach agreement with another person, and particularly with our husband or wife, the Bible gives us a powerful plumb line for how to approach each other.
The Bible teaches us that maturity is to be achieved by the balanced use of two specific ingredients in all our communicating one with another: truth and love.
Speaking the truth
Deception and lying will undermine trust in a relationship faster than any other behavior. It is impossible to build with a person who is not committed to openness and truth-telling.
Sometimes truth telling is hindered in a relationship because one person reacts so angrily or stormily to the other’s faltering attempts to be open and honest about what they did or how they feel.
As well as being willing to tell the truth we have to commit to being able to handle the truth that the other tells, otherwise we will teach them to pretend and be superficial. Only when the truth is shared can a relationship truly progress. Any apparent strength that it appears to have prior to this is merely an illusion.
Because of this, truth is the foundation of all sound relationship. Both spouses must be ready to prefer costly truths over easy lies and secrets, in order to preserve the long term wellbeing of the marriage. A relationship where ugly truths are known has more chance of flourishing than one where things are glossed over and never spoken about.
Being honest about likes and dislikes, owning up to being hurt by the other person and being willing to confront unpleasant habits or behaviors in your spouse are all aspects of truth-telling.
Speaking in love
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Love is when you appreciate the good in someone and you communicate it to them.
When you say you love someone it means that you accept them for who they are; they don’t need to perform in order to meet your standard and to qualify for your love.
When you say you love someone it means that you have affection for them and you demonstrate that affection. You treat them with a gracious attitude.
The Bible says of Jesus in John 1:14 that He was “full of grace and truth”
Being gracious means that you choose to forgive their faults and weaknesses. You give them space and time to mature and grow. You give them permission to be wrong without passing judgment.
The truth and love combination
Truth without love is like a sword. Truth combined with love is a scalpel: it makes the tiniest incision, but it still gets the job done!
Love without truth can lead you to cover up in order to protect and shield the other in the short term from things they would be better knowing and facing in the long term. If you have only love and grace without boundaries and discipline, it is like living in a playground with no fence around it.
If you have too much truth- telling, with no sensitivity for the feelings of the other, the atmosphere is harsh and demanding.
We need both in our lives to bring balance and security.
Living with truth means to acknowledge clearly defined standards and parameters. It brings accountability and final authority into our lives. It gives stability and safety. Man is prone to evil if he is left with no boundaries.
Love focuses on happiness and fun. Love without accountability trains a person to check out of a project or activity when it stops being fun. Yet the will of God will sometimes demand that we persevere in obedience long after the fun has stopped in order to accomplish it in full. For example, marriage is not always fun, but commitment to the other person will cause you to sit it out even when you and your spouse are working through some difficult things as you build together.
Godly standards, tempered with grace and forgiveness, will create an atmosphere for growth. God will see to it that your relationship develops and matures as you balance these powerful ingredients.