In my younger days, I was taught that reading the bible was for studying, learning, growing and memorizing. And I am grateful. The scriptures are deeply implanted in me because of solid, bible teaching churches.
And, somewhere along the way, I was taught (maybe more implicitly that explicitly) that “speaking the truth in love” was the greatest thing a Christian could do in their “witness.” Too. many. buzz. words.
Over the years I’ve seen “truth spoken in love” used to “help” other people. It was as though truth at any cost was the main idea. Speaking truth can be a loving thing to do. I grant you that sometimes that is the case.
You know me well enough, by now, to know that I am not downplaying truth. I just wonder sometimes if we don’t really understand what the “in love” part means. And, sometimes, we are proclaiming the truth as we see it, which, we have to admit, may not always be correct.
As I was listening to scripture recently, I came upon this passage in Matthew 8:
Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.”
Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. Jesus said, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” (Matthew 8:1-4)
I love every story where Jesus is stopped by someone who is asking for some form of healing or even simply asking a question. I love the pure grace of Jesus’ words, “I want to.”
The truth is that this man was healed and he could have gone around recounting the story within his community. Telling the truth. Instead, Jesus instructs the man to show the priest his healed body, give appropriate thanks, and then he says this: “Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”
Instead of instructions to tell the truth, Jesus encouraged the man to live the truth. The actuality of your cleansed and grateful life will bear witness. Not. Just. Words.
You know what I’m talking about, right? Haven’t you met people like this? There is a kind of embodiment of love, wisdom, health and an unmistakable aroma of Christ. Their life speaks as loud, if not louder, than their words. There is a quiet confidence in God as their Abba. Their ego doesn’t have control of the steering wheel. And they have lived their life in grace and truth.
I long to be that kind of person, don’t you? Of course, this brings up another well-known passage, John 15, in which Jesus proclaims that he is the vine and we are the branches.
You are the branch. Jesus gave very specific instructions for the branches, “Remain in me.” We simply stay attached. As we do that more and more, I believe the natural fruit will be a life lived in love, whether the truth is spoken or simply lived.
I’ve added another 5-minute retreat on our YouTube channel entitled, “Remain.” I captured the vineyard images on a trip to Napa, and the words are my prayer-thoughts after seeing up close the place where the vine and the branch connect. Check out the video below.
Today, I encourage you to live into the simplicity of the word remain. And then let your cleansed and grateful life speak for itself.