"Rather, speaking the truth in love..." - Ephesians 4:15a ESV
Communicating care... not just truth and not just emotion. Real care nestled in real words that reveal details or dynamics about the actual situation.
Oh, The truth spoken in love can really penetrate the defenses of a person.
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." - Proverbs 15:1 ESV
People don't just have physical needs. They have emotions needs.
Here is the phrase in context:
"Therefore it says, 'When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.' (In saying, 'He ascended,' what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." - Ephesians 4:8-16 ESV
Jesus didn't ascend into Heaven alone. He took people with Him. Jesus came from Heaven so that He could bring us back with Him.
That is what the truth spoken in love does. That is what grace does. It takes people along and points them toward a throne that is above the Heavens. Leadership is only there to take people along. Structure is there to take people along. Doctrine is there to ground people in truth so that they can stick it out for the long haul and not be waylaid by something else.
People grow when the truth is spoken to them in love.
The truth can be hard to take. God is holy. Nothing but perfection will do. He does not compromise. Jesus is that perfection. Jesus absorbed the hardness that justice demanded and died on a cross to satisfy God's fury at everything human that fell short of perfection. That can be hard to hear. The fact that all our accomplishments mean nothing. That we are not and never will be good enough alone. Who wants to hear that? Only the One who has been loved can have a capacity to hear it.
Grace is truth. It isn't the facts alone. Those same facts are told in the context of arms that are reaching out to hold us and love us.
I never want to just handle the facts without love. That is dangerous for people and potentially manipulative. The facts can kill people. Grace gives life.