Thursday, December 11, 2014

Biweekly Bits #23: Speaking the Truth, Graciously

After writing 26 bits, I realized that there is so much I could elaborate on with each of my bits. So I decided to turn them into a biweekly (i.e. fortnightly) series, for the next year.

Everything that's true doesn't need to be said. I'm not saying to lie to people, but if the truth isn't constructive (constructive => construct => building up), then is it beneficial right at that moment? For example, when I was in fourth form (~9th grade), one of the girls in my class decided to shorten her school uniform skirt by folding its hem on itself and stitching it up. As a result, her school skirt had a hem of about 5-6 inches, which was quite noticeable, and quite frankly, did not look good. She was also sporting a red weave that day. Self-conscious, (mostly thanks to the snide remarks coming from other students) she asked one of the other girls how she looked. The girl replied, "Your hair looks bad, your skirt looks bad; you on the whole look bad." Was it true? Yes. Did it need to be said? Probably not. Definitely not in that manner. (Also, refer to #17.)

Sometimes we use truth as an excuse to make petty, hurtful comments. You know, the times when we say things that we know will hurt others, but wrap it up with statements like "I'm just speaking the truth" or "Truth hurts."

We've probably all done this a time or two. But the question I have here is, when your motivation for speaking the truth is to tear down others, how helpful is it that your words are true? We forget that although something may be true, it doesn't mean that it needed to be said. Or sometimes, it's that it needs to be said in a different way.

In Colossians 4:8 Paul tells us to let our speech always be gracious and seasoned with salt. [Whenever I read that verse I always whisper to myself "in case I have to eat them."] The way in which we speak to others matters as much as the words that we speak to them. We should strive to speak graciously, constructively, planting our words as seeds of love and compassion. There will be times that we have to speak harsh words, that may hurt others, but when we make gracious speech a practice, those hard words tend to be much better received.

Yes, we should indeed strive for truth, in all things, but let us not taint the truth with our own malicious intent. Let us instead strive for gracious speech, in all things.

Be blessed and shine in truth!

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A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word! -Prov 15:23