"…But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:15-16). God is love. Jesus said that He was the truth. Therefore both truth and love are embodied in the person of God. They always go together and cannot be separated. Someone has said it this way: "Truth must always be spoken in love. If not, it is no longer truth. And love must always speak the truth. If not, it is no longer love."
I believe it is very important to see the connection of truth and love. Sometimes a person may begin to see a new truth. It is exciting, and in his zeal, he is eager to share it with others. It is very easy to do this without love. In so doing, he can nullify the value of the truth and do more damage than good. What he is seeing may be correct, and his motive pure, but it must be combined with love to be of value to God and others.
On the other hand, we may begin to see an area of truth and realize that this truth is costly. If seen and walked in, it may result in great cost to others. It would be easy to say nothing and keep it to ourselves. We can reason that others should just look to Jesus and deal with God themselves. "Why should I get in the way by bringing this truth to them? They may turn on me." If I truly love God and let His love flow through me, I must be willing to stand with Jesus in truth. He never held back because of persecution. Love caused him to declare the truth, no matter the cost. Souls are too important. Pleasing God is our focus. Eternal decisions are being made. If I do not declare the truth because of the cost, I am not allowing the love of God to have full expression through me.
As we have seen earlier, the church is called the "pillar and ground of the truth." We are called to "fill up the sufferings of Christ," and Jesus said that a servant is not greater than his master. If men persecuted Him, they will persecute us for standing in truth. It is to be expected. But as we stand in truth, we must be sure that we let the Spirit of love fill our hearts and lives with the very love of God. Yes, we need to be known as those who have a love for the truth and stand in truth. But at the same time, we should be known as those who love and care for others. Those who are lovers of God will be attracted to walk with us, and those who do not love God will find every reason to distance themselves from us. This is our calling as the body of Christ here on this earth.
We can think of "speaking the truth in love" in two ways. First, there is the public declaration of truth. The gospel must be proclaimed. If we are living in the love of God, it will move us to declare the truth openly so that God may draw men to Himself. It will be done in compassion, grace, and wisdom, with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. God will take that word and drive it home in the hearts of men and women to "convict of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment."
Secondly, there is the private communication of truth to individuals. When we do this, we need to know that we are being led of the Spirit and have permission from God to speak to another. Have we prayed for that person? Have we let God search our own hearts to make sure we are moving in love? If it is a particularly touchy area, have we consulted with other spiritual brothers and sisters in a proper way to make sure we are seeing things correctly? Do we have the wisdom from God that is "first pure, then peaceable, and full of mercy"? Do we have the timing of God? Are we ourselves moving under the control of the Holy Spirit? If these things are not present, our "speaking the truth" may result in hurts and broken relationships that can take a long time to repair. To touch another person directly, we must have God's permission, and even then it must be done with great care and tenderness. Truth must be spoken in love to be truth.