The Fine Art Of Speaking Truth In Love . . . .

A quote posted on social media weighed heavy on my heart last week:

“Don’t waste your words
on people who deserve your silence.
Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say
is nothing at all.”

It struck me that the perspective of not wasting words on those who deserve our silence, reflects a haughtiness of attitude that is lightyears away from God’s call to love.  In fact, to say nothing at all, effectively denying the worth of the other individual, underscores the chilling observation of Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel,:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

The truth is, silence is never golden when love is absent.
Instead, silence combined with the absence of love kills
and has great potential for hardening hearts–
yours, mine and the one being ignored.    

God calls us . . . .

The problem is not new. The Apostle Paul wrote about conflict in relationships and how Christ’s followers were to handle such:

“We are no longer to be children,
tossed here and there by waves
and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men,
by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
but speaking the truth in love,
we are to grow up in all aspects
into Him who is the head,
even Christ . . . .”
Ephesians 4: 14, 15

So what does it mean to speak truth in love?  Is it to follow wisdom of Thumper in the classic movie, Bambi? 

If you don’t have anything nice to say,
don’t say anything at all.”  

While that may be a sweet notion, God calls His own to go deeper in our relationships . . . much, much deeper.

To speak truth in love is not about niceties.  It often requires:

  • Sacrificial kindness–a willingness to risk being misunderstood for the good of the other.
Speaking truth in love is a process that requires intentionality. The key to working out that process is given us in Ephesians 4:22-25,

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life,
to put off your old self, which is being corrupted
by its deceitful desires . . . and to put on the new self,
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and
speak truthfully to your neighbor . . . .”

Speaking truth in love becomes an art form over time when we remember Christ’s call to us:

“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12
It is when we take our focus off ourselves and look to Christ as Sovereign and Good, that we begin to understand the value of words.  It is when we begin to choose our words prayerfully that we will bless our friends, neighbors and even that irritating individual we would otherwise be tempted to ignore.
Yes, relationships ARE hard and and at times even draining.  But when we keep Christ’s call in the center of our thinking as we use words to bless others, life becomes an adventure that is interesting and full of meaning.
All to His Glory!


  1. There are times, however, where silence allows the person who will not hear to realize that what they have said is unacceptable. My mother has used this technique with me often over the years with much success . Often, I have needed that “ extra” moment of reflection on my words. I assure you such instruction was done in love. When we chose those words to say to one another I find it helpful to consider if they can be heard or how they will be heard, not just considering my heartfelt motives. Of course, I am not a great speaker either😉.


    1. Your mom was a very wise woman to be quiet and trust God’s Spirit to work the blessing of conviction in your heart. That is part of the artistry in how we are supposed relate to others as prayer and the Holy Spirit work what is needful in both hearts. My concern regarding “silence” in the quotation, is with the attitude toward the other person. Thanks for writing, Jo, your point is well taken! ❤️


  2. I cringe thinking, “What if God would have only spoken to me when I deserved it?” But, “…while we were sinners …” He gave us His Word, It became flesh and spoke to us. I needed to hear that today! :/


  3. This is the hardest thing, to speak truth in love. It cannot be done I think, unless we are in prayer and our minds and hearts are turned to Him as we speak.


  4. Well said, Ellen. But even when we feel awkward in our efforts, He can still use them to bless the person we’re speaking to. In fact, many times I am totally dependent on His Spirit to turn my clumsy efforts into something meaningful in the other person’s life. That’s grace in action!


  5. Hi, Kathie, I’ve been think a lot about this very thing this weekend as I’ve had a fellow missionary and friend visiting. I so much wanted to encourage her in some of her struggles with love but also wisdom. I’m thankful our friendship is deep and allows for some hard things to be said, but it’s not easy. Your post has been helpful as I think over some of our conversations this past weekend and wonder “did I challenge her too much, too little, did I love her well even in the hard things that needed to be said”, etc. Am so thankful for the help of the Holy Spirit! And, thankful for you, my friend.


  6. Hey Liz, what a treat it always is to hear from you! What a blessing for your friend to be with you right now. I cherish our many conversations over the years and have no doubt that the Lord has used you mightily to minister to your friend. One rule I’m trying to follow after ministering to others, “When in doubt, DON’T!” If I am convicted by the Spirit about something I follow His leading to make it right. Otherwise, I refuse to play Satan’s game by doubting God’s ability to use even my meager efforts to His Glory. Love you, sweet friend! 💌


  7. I love this wise post. I have shed the silence around people, even those I would not normally like and I find it makes a big difference. I speak to everyone, because I know what it feels like not to be spoken to and that was when I never made an effort myself. I have been the one who did not speak and the one who was not spoken too, so I get it. I speak to people now and try my best to make others comfortable. It works wonders and even those who shun me, no matter, I walk away feeling better that I tried. It costs nothing to smile, pass a compliment or even have a full on conversation as long as the other person feels better.


    1. Thank you, Caroline, for sharing. Sounds as if you’ve learned the value of following the Golden Rule. Continue to be a blessing to those He puts on your path and I am confident that your life will be all the richer. ❤️


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