I shared previously about what I learned from reading Love Walked Among Us by Paul Miller. This book deeply impacted me, and I shared about how the first section of the book was impactful in Love Shows Compassion. The main point of this book is showing how Jesus loved others and how we're called to love others like Jesus. The next section in the book is titled "Love Speaks The Truth" and boy, was this section challenging and encouraging to me.
When I think of loving others, the compassion side of loving others comes pretty easy to me. The Lord has made me a very compassionate person, but speaking the truth? That's something I'm fearful to do. I often believe the lie that being honest or speaking the truth is unloving, but Jesus exposes that lie and reveals the truth to me.
As shared in the previous post, Jesus loved others compassionately, but he also loved others by being honest. Jesus spoke honestly to others, like calling out the Pharisees for being hypocrites, but he also showed compassion towards them. He was honest with His Father in the garden of Gethsemane about how He was feeling in regards to going to the cross, but He ultimately submitted to God's will (Matthew 26:36-46). Jesus balances honesty and compassion.
I don't do that well... at all.
Paul Miller gives a great example of this struggle in Love Walked Among Us and how to choose honesty and compassion instead of dishonesty and resentment in relationships. He tells a story about a husband and a wife. The wife works late at night, and the husband doesn't get to see his wife very often. The husband and wife make plans to have a date night, but the wife calls her husband an hour before she's supposed to be home, asking if he would be okay with her working late and postponing their date night.
The husband has several ways that he could respond. If we're honest, a lot of us in a similar situation would respond by either saying "It's okay," allowing the person to do what they want and then later resenting the fact that he/she chose work over the relationship, allowing bitterness to fester. OR we respond by getting angry and upset and telling the person that they're not really caring for the relationship. (At least these are two ways I might respond).
Paul Miller offers a very different response, a response that images Jesus by balancing honesty and compassion. He shares that the husband could speak honestly to his wife and tell her that he would prefer her to come home for their date, but that he would understand if she chooses to stay later at work. In this way, the husband is honest about how he feels but is also compassionate in allowing his wife to feel free to make a decision that she think would be best.
The wife could then respond in one of several ways. She could feel guilty and decide to come home, but feel resentful that she didn't get extra work done. She could stay at work and come home later. Or she could decide that coming home is the best thing. However, in all of her potential responses, the husband is free from resenting not telling his wife the truth. He told her the truth; he wanted her home, but he gave her the freedom to make the decision. The husband images Jesus in balancing honesty and compassion
I can't tell you how encouraged I was after reading this example from Paul Miller's book, because this is something that I often struggle with: wanting to be honest with how I feel but also wanting to show compassion and understanding. Reading this section of Love Walked Among Us came at exactly the right time.
Within a week of reading the section, I encountered several relational conflicts in which I was in the "husband's" situation. I wanted to share how I truly felt but also show compassion. This time, I didn't give into the lie that I wasn't loving my friend by speaking the truth. I shared with her honestly about how her actions and decisions made me feel, but I also showed her compassion and understanding in forgiving her for how her actions and decisions affected me personally.
I would recommend this book for this example of speaking the truth in love alone. I reference this section all the time now when I encounter situations and conversations when I could choose to hide the truth and feel resentful or choose honesty and feel free.
I still have a lot of growing to do in speaking the truth in love, but this section showed me that Jesus loved others by being honest and by balancing honesty and compassion. I'm called to image Jesus as his follower and that means that I'm called to speak the truth. Speaking the truth and being honest truly does love others, and I'm looking forward to future opportunities to practice balancing speaking the truth while also showing compassion.
This post is a part of a series as I review and share thoughts spurred on by the book
Love Walked Among Us by Paul Miller.
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