‘Politically-correct’ (PC) speech is domineering our public discourse in 2020 in unprecedented fashion! PC conversation, in theory, is intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society. Yet, in practice, it is bandied about by people of various agendas who use the term to decry those whose views may actually be contrarian to their own. Today, holding to and expressing an opposing point of view is actually perceived as a kind of offense by some people. Whatever happened to the first amendment?
As Kingdom-citizens, we are charged by our Lord to another tenor of speech, ‘Biblically-correct’ speech, or ‘BC talk’ if you will. And as we live and seek to be a powerful witness for Jesus, how is our BC speech to be characterized? Well, we’re called to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
In our witness, both are critical. Jesus, in John 8:32, said “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Additionally, the spirit in which we speak is critical. Our speech needs to be seasoned with grace, as Colossians 4:6 tells us:
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
This doesn’t mean we can’t speak directly into situations and issues. But it does mean we are to be spirit-led in our speech. Jesus is our model!
Notice Jesus speaking the truth in love in two separate encounters – Luke 9:37-56 and John 8:2-11. In speaking with the disciples in Luke 9, He appears harsh. In contrast, while ministering to the woman caught in adultery in the John 8 passage, He appears gentle – yet His goal was the same. He desired His audience to repent and trust in Him.
What can we learn from Jesus in these narratives that can apply to our personal witness among others? One lesson is that different situations require different tenors of communication. Jesus strongly rebuked the disciples, while he gently instructed the woman – yet in both situations He spoke a word aptly spoken. The spirit in which we speak is critical – Jesus spoke in love. Additionally, He was always in control – a great example for us. Lastly, we’re reminded that it’s the truth that sets us free – Jesus only spoke truth!
In your personal witness, do you struggle more with speaking the truth or speaking with a tone of love and grace? One of my personal challenges is sharing with love and grace. I’ve seen in myself the tendency to be harsh and unloving in my witness, not so much to the unchurched, but to churched people who’ve fallen away – those I think ‘should know better’ – as I want to ‘set them straight!’
Wherever you may be on the continuum, we all should have a common starting point prior to speaking with others about spiritual things – prayer.
Go to God on behalf of people before you to people on behalf of God.
In simple terms, we can pray for open doors (Colossians 4:3-4), open hearts (Acts 16:14), and an open mouth (Ephesians 6:19) – ours – to proclaim the glories of the gospel.
Additionally, communicating the gospel message is an exercise requiring uttering the truth in love. Because the gospel is good news that’s predicated on bad news. So the gospel by its’ very nature, is confrontational – for it confronts the sin of man and reveals our hopeless condition as sinners in need of a Savior.
In my witness over the years, one of the more common themes requiring a rebuke has been to people who think they’re going to heaven because they are ‘good people’ or because their good outweighs their bad. Sharing that no one gets to heaven based upon what they have done, but rather trusting in what Jesus has done for them – is the truth. The message is paramount, yet the spirit of love in which we deliver that message is also critical.
As we ponder the reality that the gospel is by nature confrontational – it confronts man’s depravity – we should also seek to elucidate the universality of our plight as human beings.
In other words, the gospel is not about ‘them’,
it’s about ‘us’ – all of us!
Because each of us is estranged from a holy, righteous, and perfect God due to our sin – all of us are in the same boat. Yet, God in His mercy and grace, has provided a perfect sacrifice for sin:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
– John 3:16
Sharing this commonality with our audience, what I like to call ‘leveling the playing field,’ is helpful to remember as we share the good news of Jesus – in truth and love.
In our final installment in this brief series called Speak Life, we’ll touch upon answering questions and objections. Until then, the Lord bless you and keep you!
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
– Ephesians 4:29