Speak the truth in love

I recently received this direct message about dealing with truth in response to a posting calling an action sin…

Not judging anyone, I want to encourage people to love and good works. If someone is fat it may be the truth to call them fat but it won’t help them lose weight. In LOVE you must encourage them to eat right and exercise agreed?

A time to be silent (Ecclesiastes 3)

No, that is not right. If you don’t have the responsibility, accountability, and authority to help a brother or sister who has fallen in sin, you should be quiet. You should never try to manipulate someone with tangential euphemisms. Jesus Christ never did this, nor did any of his apostles or prophets. Besides, we’re considering whether or not an action is sin, which has consequences leading to godly judgment. Oh the irony! You cannot debate dealing with sin using a euphemistic metaphor of “someone is fat.”

Know this, my beloved brothers:  let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak,  slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:19-21)

Therefore, having put away falsehood,  let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor,  for we are members one of another. (Ephesians 4:25 ESV)

We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God.  We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.  (2 Corinthians 4:2 NLT)

Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt,  whose lives are lived in complete honesty!  (Psalm 32:2 NLT)

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.  Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  (Romans 12:9 NLT)

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other;  let us show the truth by our actions.  (1 John 3:18 NLT)

A time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3)

If you do have the responsibility, accountability, and authority to help a brother or sister who has fallen in sin, then you need to speak the truth. It is no kindness to call sin a sickness or an addiction. There is hope for restoration from sin, but there isn’t anything you can do to fix a sickness or an addiction. Therefore, it’s important to call something by it’s real name because sin points to Jesus Christ.

Love takes no pleasure in evil,  but rejoices in the truth.  (1 Corinthians 13:6)

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin,  you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.  And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. (Galatians 6:1-3 NLT)

so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  (Ephesians 4:14-15 ESV)

This “being true” is expressed in many forms. Sometimes as “being of the truth” (John 18:37; 1John 2:21; 1John 3:19); sometimes as “abiding in the truth” (John 8:44), or “having the truth in us” (1John 1:8); sometimes as “doing the truth” (John 3:21), and “walking in the truth” (2John 1:4; 3John 1:4). In all cases it is closely connected with the idea of unity with Him who is Himself “the Truth” (John 14:6). Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

To return to the original metaphor of “someone is fat”. If this is a preference, a genetic predisposition, or a medical condition, it is not sin and does not need to be “fixed.” But, if someone has fallen into the sin of gluttony and has gotten fat as a result, then they need help to be restored from the sin of gluttony. The solution from that sin is not “encourage them to eat right and exercise.” The solution is to confess, repent, forsake, and seek forgiveness.

This is serious! Consider how severe God’s penalty for this behavior was under the Mosaic Ten Commandment Law…

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, that will not hearken to the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and though they chasten him, will not hearken unto them; then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; and they shall say unto the elders of his city: ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he doth not hearken to our voice;  he is a glutton, and a drunkard.’  And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die; so shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

Hear thou, my son, and be wise,
     And guide thy heart in the way.
Be not among winebibbers;
     Among gluttonous eaters of flesh;
 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty;
     And drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. 
(Proverbs 23:19-21)


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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