The Kind of Speech We Desperately Need Today

By Mark D. Roberts

December 18, 2018

Instead, 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. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians 4:15-16


It’s a little risky to suggest that one passage of Scripture is more important than another, given the fact that all of Scripture is God’s inspired Word. But I will go ahead and say it anyway. The short phrase, “speaking the truth in love” is, in my opinion, one of the most important phrases in the Bible. I say this not because it is truer than any other phrase. Rather, “speaking the truth in love” points to something we urgently need today, offering both an invaluable word of encouragement and an implicit but pointed warning.

Two boys watching the airplanes from an airport window.As we look at the culture around us, we don’t see a lot of speaking the truth in love. For sure there is a dearth of truth speaking these days. And, even if people are speaking the truth, they often do it with anything but love. Yet, if we’re going to live faithfully as followers of Jesus and members of his body, then we need to learn how to speak the truth and how to do this with love. I know I need help with this. Perhaps you do too.

If we’re going to understand what it means to speak the truth in love and how we can be transformed by doing it, we need to consider several crucial questions: What does it mean to speak the truth? Who does the speaking? What truth are we to speak? What does it mean to speak the truth in love?

I believe these questions are important enough to merit careful investigation of Ephesians 4:15, which reads, “Instead, 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.” “Instead” reminds us of the immediate context for verse 15, where we were warned about the craftiness of false teachers (4:14). In contrast to this, we are to be people of the truth, people who speak the truth and, implicitly, who hear and live the truth as well.

Those of us who follow Jesus and seek to honor him in all we do have an extraordinary opportunity in this time of history to distinguish ourselves and honor our Lord by speaking the truth in love. Though you and I may not make political pronouncements that get wide attention, and though our speaking may never break the Internet, nevertheless, we can make a real difference through our speech: in our offices and shops, in our studios and warehouses, in our homes and churches, in our neighborhoods and cities.

In tomorrow’s Life for Leaders devotion we’ll start our close examination of the phrase “speaking the truth in love.” For now, you may want to consider the following questions.

Something to Think About:

When you hear the phrase “speaking the truth in love,” what comes to mind? What thoughts? What feelings?

Who in your life, present or past, do you think of as someone who speaks (or spoke) the truth in love?

What is hard about speaking the truth in love?

Something to Do:

As you have read today’s devotion, you may have formed a clear idea of a context in which you need to speak the truth in love. It could be at work or at home or in some other setting. If you feel confident, you might do your truth-in-love speaking today. Or you can wait until I have unpacked the meaning of Ephesians 4:15. Either way, keep in mind what God may have put on your heart.


Gracious God, today we begin to consider what it means for us to be “speaking the truth in love.” As we examine this phrase closely in the next several days, we ask you to teach us what it means, not just in an abstract way, but what it means for us, for how we speak and live each day.

Help me, I pray, to speak the truth in love today. Inspire me by your Word and guide me by your Spirit. Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Honesty and Speaking the Truth in Love (2 John 1-11)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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