“but speaking the truth in love…”
Ephesians 4:15 is such a common verse. Many memorize this and even often cite it.
But what is the emphasis of this verse? Truth, or love or is truth and love both sides of the same coin?
Contextually, Ephesians 4 is discussing unity. In fact, Pauls discusses God giving some as apostles, some as prophets and…some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the full knowledge…so we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine.
We have been given teachers so we can achieve unity and knowledge and not be mired in false doctrines.
That speaks of teachers teaching the truth of the gospel.
It doesn’t speak to teachers sugar-coating the truth so as to appear loving.
Love and truth are in fact, two sides of the same coin.
How is this illustrated in the bible?
In Galatians 2:11, 14 Paul states “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned…I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel…”
Love is confrontational when it needs to be. It’s not wishy-washy. It needs to be this way because unity only comes from knowing the truth. Unity does not come about by looking the other way to be nice when false doctrine is taught.
That’s why James 3:1 says “Do not many of you become teachers…” The responsibility of great, too important to not know and share the truth.
But, not only is the teacher responsible. You are to be discerning also. Philippians 1:9-10 describes this “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
This is the same issue, only now pointed at you – love and knowledge with all discernment.