Monday, 30 September 2013

The Soft and the Hard of It

“Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love” John Stott

John Stott
So my first thought after reading this quote was how does love grows soft, what does that mean?  In one sense when something becomes soft it is weaker, in another sense it can be easily swayed or affected emotionally.  Another take on the word soft is not wanting to deliver hard or bad news to someone and in those cases we are accused of being soft.

So it seems to me that what Stott is saying is that if my wife fails to speak the truth in love to me my ability to love will not be a strong as it could be.  On the other hand if someone delivers what they consider unvarnished truth and I do not sense that their love for me is the motivating factor, then most likely I will not receive well what they have to say.

Ephesians 4:29 gets to this point:

29 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.

It seems to me there are several components to such an exchange as the one described by Stott.

(1)  I consider that the person addressing me truly loves me.

(2)  That what they share with me is something that will build me up according to my needs, that there is no hidden agenda on the part of the person sharing the information.

(3)  That what is shared with me will be said in such a way that I will listen and not be turned off to the truth, even if initially I become somewhat defensive.

(4)  That what is said will help me to behave in a way that is more becoming to one who professes to believe in Christ as Lord and Savior.

I get very impatient particularly when it comes to electronic things not working as I think they should work. My impatience is a form of sin.  It is very helpful to me when my wife gently reminds me that God is in control and that if He wanted my computer to work it would.  I need to be reminded that life will be filled with challenges, that God wants me to rely on Him and to take in stride those petty occurrences that I allow to get the best of me.  After all patience is a Fruit of the Spirit.

 

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