“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” Proverbs 27:9

As I studied Proverbs 27:17 I went then to verse 9. These questions came to mind. Am I a true friend if I don’t speak truth into the lives of my friends or acquaintances? Do I know how to “speak the truth in love?” What hinders me from speaking the truth? Fear of rejection, fear of losing friendship, fear of questions I might not feel prepared to answer? Do I have someone in my life right now who speaks truth into my life? Do I pray and ask the Lord for opportunities to speak truth or hear it?

Speaking the truth in love is not as much about having a gentle demeanor as it is about the way truth and love go hand-in-hand. Because we love one another, we must speak the truth. Because we know the truth, we must be people characterized by love (John 13:34–35; 15:1–17). Jesus “came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). As His followers who are being conformed to His image (Romans 8:29), we should also be a reflection of His grace and truth.

Paul writes, “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). That is our goal right? To be mature believers always striving to be more like Jesus? Well, here is one way we do it.

It all goes back to what is in our heart. If we love people as Jesus loves us and them, and our purpose is to point them to Him and glorify God, our words will be beneficial. If we have anything else in our heart, speaking the truth just won’t happen, or if it does, the love element will be missing and our words will fall flat. Worse yet, it may cause dissension and tarnish our witness of God’s grace.

Our words should be beneficial to the hearers of those words. Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Wow! Stop right there. No unwholesome talk out of my mouth? No venting, no complaining, no voicing my opinion or preference out of turn? ((Matthew 15:18) And I have the power to choose. Why, because we are to build others up. What comes out of our mouths should be beneficial in some way to our listeners even though it might not seem so at that moment. Let’s pray for wisdom and courage to speak truth into the lives in our sphere of influence, and the wisdom to know when to listen.

Deb Hill


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