We should be kind and loving to others.
Oh, yes, of course, but we can’t do so at the expense of accountability. We need to be able to stand for our beliefs and be firm about holding others to them, too.
We need to speak truth with no apologies. No more of this flopping around and being tolerant of what’s wrong around us.
Well, yes, truth is important, but we have to find a way to communicate it with love. If we don’t, no one will listen.
Well, if they don’t listen, they lose out. I just know I have to speak up with no apologies.
Sound familiar? How often have you heard a similar exchange recently?
It’s as if we approach speaking the truth in love like a seesaw.
I think it involves a touch of pride.
If speaking the truth in love is a seesaw, we stand in the middle and try to balance the tension. Inevitably, when it comes to conversations about speaking the truth in love, the topic of accountability isn’t far behind. Sadly, too many see accountability as a harsh, unnecessary, invasive intrusion instead of an invitation to do life together and invite some checks and balances. Even within the church, perhaps especially within the church, we have created subcultures of echo chambers, and we feel as if the only accountability we will accept comes from within our small echo chambers we decide to huddle in. We see most everything else as an intrusion, censorship, or fake.
Do we really think we are smart enough to know all truth? Do we think we don’t have things to learn—things that will step on our toes and challenge us to uproot and cultivate? No echo chamber is healthy. By it’s very nature, an echo chamber simply mimics what is being said. It repeats itself over and over. Every single person in the chamber is human with (hopefully) some sound concepts and truth but also a lot of distortions. Heard repeatedly, we believe those distortions. We are affirmed. We establish pathways that are familiar and comfortable. We feel as if we are doing life well with others. But where’s the truth check in the echo chamber?
For me, while I respect and listen to many people in my life, the one and only voice I trust wholeheartedly is God’s. God might speak in an echo chamber with others who are coming to the chamber with faithful intentions, but as soon as anyone other than God opens his or her mouth, there are distortions. Yet we continue to talk and echo and eventually do even worse than ignoring God’s words. We twist and misrepresent them. We claim to live in God’s ways and will, but we don’t check with him often enough to stay accountable to him.
I have always read a lot. Many years ago, I was challenged when I realized I was reading a menagerie of books more than I was reading my Bible. Many of the books were Christian-based, but nothing compares to the Bible. If we aren’t familiar with the Bible and have a dynamic relationship with God through it, how can we trust that we are measuring everything else we hear or read in its context? I’m not saying people are out to deceive us, but I’m a writer—and I think most writers will admit to being fallible even when doing our very best to honor and reflect God with every word.
The only reason I can connect so many experiences in my day to God and his Word is because I’m in it. It’s my lifeblood. Everything I do is connected to it somehow. Sometimes I flop miserably, but even then, the process and next steps are in the context of God’s Word. And so, my challenge to you today is to get into the Bible. Do not spend more time listening to or reading other voices than the amount of time you spend in God’s Word. It’s a challenge, especially when you add time spent on social media, but I promise you will grow through the sacrifice.
- For those who love podcasts? Try the Dwell app for listening to Scripture.
- For those who like to discuss what you read? Choose a reading/study partner who will keep you accountable and rooted in truth.
- For those who organize time and schedules? Block your Bible reading time. When you then want to pick up another book, only do so if you’ve dug into Scripture and only proceed to read for as long as you dug into Scripture. It takes some time to get used to the rhythm, but it has the best returns on any time you will spend today, tomorrow, and all the tomorrows after that. (I personally enjoy journaling Bibles, so I can easily jot notes that don’t interrupt my flow of reading. The notes help me later review highlights or questions. I like shifting from one journaling Bible to another so I am encouraged to consider new thoughts and reflections without relying on previous thoughts or limited space.)
Speaking the truth in love requires diligence. It requires seeking and reflecting truth. It requires loving healthily and generously. It requires speaking authentically, intricately tied to truth and love.