When we speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), the words we say are important. But Paul also reminds us that the attitude of our heart matters as we speak. He says a heart of love “does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).This is a reminder that when we speak it is possible for us to say the right words but have the wrong attitude in our hearts.
Paul warns against delighting in what is evil. Servant leaders do not rejoice in the sin or wrong in another persons’ life. But they rejoice with the truth! Servant leaders rejoice when the truth can be spoken and joyfully anticipate a response to the truth which will bring greater freedom and joy to that person’s soul.
Rejoicing as we speak truth delights in the opportunity to speak into the life of another person for their good. It reflects a focus on the other rather than self. It is this focus on the other which reveals a true heart of love and allows the servant leader to speak the truth with rejoicing.
Speaking the truth with rejoicing requires balance.
Some leaders may find a mistake or wrong in someone’s life and find delight in exposing it, feeling justified that the ‘truth has been revealed.’ There may be secret pride in the leader feeling that in some way he/she is better than the other because a wrong has been revealed. The words spoken may be true, but they are not loving.
Other leaders may see the wrong and not be willing to speak the truth because they don’t want to appear to be “delighting in evil.” This leader only wants to focus on the positive in the other and rejoice in what is right. Paul tells us that a balance is needed. Truth should be spoken but with the right attitude. A servant leader carefully guards against delighting in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Speaking the truth with rejoicing reveals maturity.
Learning to rejoice at the right things reflects our level of maturity. Paul made it clear that as we learn how to speak the truth in love, “we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). This growth is a process and takes time to develop.
An immature leader may see the need to speak truth but do it out of a sense of duty or obligation, as one of the tasks of leadership. This is especially true when the truth which needs to be spoken may be painful or difficult for the other person to receive. This leader may focus on what it will ‘cost’ to take the time and energy to speak the truth. The focus is on oneself, not the other person.
As leaders mature, Christ changes their hearts to be more loving and to focus on the needs of the other instead of self. Even when truth needs to expose something wrong or sinful in another person’s life, the servant leader does not rejoice in what is wrong but finds delight in helping the other person to grow by speaking the truth with love.
Speaking the truth with rejoicing reflects Jesus.
Jesus never delighted in evil but rejoiced in speaking the truth. After Simon Peter acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).
Jesus was able to focus on the blessing for Simon Peter and rejoiced in what God had revealed to him. Jesus was not envious that Peter had received this revelation, He rejoiced! And although Peter’s revelation was all about Jesus’ identity, Jesus does not focus on Himself, but on Peter. He continued to talk about Peter’s destiny to become a significant leader in the church. Servant leaders learn from Jesus to rejoice as they speak the truth in love.
Until next time, yours on the journey,
For further reflection and discussion:
- What is my natural tendency, to “delight in evil” or “rejoice in the truth”? What is the result in my leadership?
- When have I spoken truth, but was inwardly proud that I was able to expose the wrong in the other person? What was the result in my own life and in the life of the person with whom I spoke?
- Read Matthew 16:13-23 and reflect more on Jesus’ communication with Peter. What can I observe about how Jesus kept the focus on Peter instead of Himself? Am I able to do this when someone gives me a compliment? What can I learn about speaking the truth in love from Jesus’ rebuke of Peter in verse 23? Was this spoken in love?
- Can I think of another time when Jesus rejoiced as He spoke truth? What can I learn from His example?
Copyright, Global Disciples 2019