Speaking Truth In Love
No one really likes being called out in their sins, wrongdoings, or poor judgement.
Paul was imprisoned in Rome at the time he wrote his letter to the Colossians, and had not visited the Colossae church. They did not know him personally, but they knew him by reputation. As an apostle, Paul had authority to address the church of Colossae and their problems. He had learned of false teachers spreading their own philosophy, emphasizing legalistic rules as the way to spiritual growth. Some taught Christ was not sufficient for salvation. This thinking leads to pride, bitterness, and division; and so Paul is writing to the Colossians to remind them of who they are, warn them of being headed in the wrong direction, and to reaffirm that Christ is sufficient.
No one really likes being called out in their sins, wrongdoings, or poor judgement. I imagine the Colossians weren’t any different. Paul could have started his letter, “What is wrong with you all? What are you thinking?” But he didn’t. Paul would get to concerns/problems soon enough, but first he points out that he knows of their good and positive traits. Paul begins his letter by surrounding the readers with grace and love. He calls them holy and faithful. Col 1:2 “To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ”. Paul points out their virtues of faith, love and hope. Col 1:5 “ the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven…”
To speak truth in love has been a difficult skill for me. While I wouldn’t consider myself rude or in-compassionate as a whole, I know I have ‘spoken’ words of truth to people I dearly love without thinking of how it was coming across. I know that I’ve been on the ‘right’ side of a disagreement or argument, and said the “I told you so” and even the “how could you”’s without much consideration of an already broken spirit in the situation. Being right does not make me righteous; just as speaking truth is not the same as speaking truth in love with grace. We are called to communicate in such a way that the manner of our speaking honors our Lord Jesus and edifies His body, the church. I know that not all of my words have always done that.
Paul gives a gentle reminder of where they came from and the fruit of their good works. Col 1:7-8 “.. the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant… and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” Then in 1:9-10 he writes as a portion of his prayer for them “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way”.
Paul’s words of truth, spoken in love give me great encouragement, and new ways to self-reflect of where I come from, where I am headed and why. I look forward to the next words of Paul’s letter, but as I read over these verses again, I cannot help but to look inward and pray the same words over myself; maybe you might too. Lord, fill me with the knowledge of your will. Spirit, grant me the wisdom and understanding so that my own words would be spoken to others through filters of love and grace, and so that I might live a life worthy of the Lord and please you in every way. Amen