Some thoughts on truth and love

17 11 2012

I’ve been thinking this week about a phrase that Paul wrote in his letter to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus: “we will speak the truth in love”.

My thoughts were kick-started by listening to Shauna Niequist speaking about the ancient proverb, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” You can listen to her talk here.  She tells of a visit she made to a metal worker who showed her that you need two things to shape metal – heat and force. We can hammer metal with intense force, but if there’s no heat it’s just big noise and no movement. There must be heat before there can be shape.

Shauna then talks about the two things that are needed if we are to engage in the arena of personal growth – trust and truth. If there’s no trust, the words that are said, however truthful, will be just that – words, and probably hurtful ones at that; if there’s too much trust, the truthful words never get said.  I’ve been in both positions. Someone once said some very hurtful things to me and concluded with, “I’m just being honest.”  Yeah, right!  And wary of this trap, I’ve often failed to say things that I should have said because I didn’t want to upset the other person, even although leaving them where they were did them no favours. It’s critical to have the two in tandem if personal transformation is to take place.

So back to Ephesians.

Someone once said that the sense of  “we will speak the truth in love” in the original Greek (and who am I to argue!) is “truthing it in love”. I like that.  There’s the sense of continuation, not just a vomit of words, but a walking alongside another person, loving them, easing them into realisation of the truth and, as they say in the classier classics, “being there for them”. Isn’t that what you would want from a friend?

And to what end are we to engage in this often difficult path with others?  It’s so that we, and they, grow up – “God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other.”


Count me in

13 03 2011

During the next couple of weeks time everyone in England will be counted.  There are clear instructions with the census form –

“Everyone should be included in the census – all people, households and overnight visitors.

It is used to help plan and fund services for your community – services like transport, education and health.

Taking part in the census is very important and it’s also compulsory. You could face a fine if you don’t participate or if you supply false information.

Your personal information is protected by law and will be kept confidential for at least 100 years.

So help tomorrow take shape and be part of the 2011 Census.”

Our census takes place every ten years, and prospectively is used for planning and funding purposes; retropectively genealogists interrogate census data for family information.

In the ancient world of King David, there seems to have been a different purpose and when he took the census of his people (2 Samuel 24),  there was a problem.

David doesn’t appear to have been under military threat at this time, but he wants to find out how many fighting men he has.  His military strength has been a dominant feature in his reign and maybe his downfall here is that he is depending on the size of his army, on human power, rather than on God for his kudos.  At any rate, God is displeased with him.

The numbers are returned to him and almost immediately David realises that he has made a big mistake; his conscience is pricked and he is quick to acknowledge that he has been wrong.  I admire that.    He doesn’t get defensive, or blame someone else.  He holds his hands up and asks for forgiveness.  

What counts for David more than anything is his relationship with his God, so although he shows his human frailty, he exemplifies the importance of keeping short accounts, of being honest and of realigning life with God’s way. 

Count me in to that way of living.

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