Speaking Truth Through Tears
Matthew 5:43–44 summarizes what many people believe is the apex of all Christian Truth. Jesus is speaking and he says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” On the surface it would seem that Jesus is some kind of “passive pushover” where nothing or nobody bothered him. If you only read this verse, Jesus, meek and mild, would only be loving, speaking kind words and continually in prayer for those who hated him.
That is a nice picture. It looks good on folk art and coffee mugs, but it is NOT the whole truth.
The same Jesus who spoke in Matthew 5 also said some very sobering things in Matthew 23:13–33. He uses these words: Hypocrites, sons of hell, blind guides, fools, full of uncleanness, lawlessness, serpents, and brood of vipers. He’s describing people’s practices that were persecuting Him.
You may say, “Wait a minute, how does this work? Is the Bible contradicting itself?” Here’s the answer: NO!
These two sets of verses tell us this: Jesus knew that love included speaking hard truth. And, He knew that speaking hard truth, in love, isn’t always hate speech. Let’s be clear, Jesus didn’t make a habit of talking to people this way. He’s not giving us license to just spout off at people. However, in a culture bent on trying to redefine words, we have to examine His life and realize that love isn’t simply an ambiguous-all-condoning-non-confrontational-God approves of my behavior no matter what-no consequences, feeling. Sometimes love means speaking the hard truth to someone and it doesn’t mean we are not being loving, nor does speaking soft words mean we are being loving. The whole truth in love means we need to be truthful and loving.
Jesus shows us a glimpse of this just a few verses later. In Matthew 23:37–38 He says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate.”
Here He’s speaking hard truth and He’s also showing them His brokenness and compassion for them. He laments. He wants to gather them as a mother Hen gathers her chicks. His heart desperately wants them to come to repentance.
Luke 19:41–42 shows us the same thing. Jesus isn’t blasting; He’s brokenhearted. He’s weeping over a city and a people whom He dearly loves, but their practices—what they are doing—are all wrong!
Jesus wept over their sinful condition and we need to learn how to do that. Instead of blasting away, we’ve got to be broken over their practices and speak loving truth to them.
Friends, speak the truth in love. Say the hard things when necessary, but make sure it’s tear-soaked and comes from a heart that wants people to know God’s redemptive Truth. Don’t blast for the sake of blasting. In the midst of your zeal and passion understand the delicate balance and speak with a broken and loving heart, through your tears.