"Speaking the Truth in love, … grow up into Him in allthings, which is the Head, even Christ."— Ephesians 4:15.
THE Truth is always to be spoken humbly, but fearlessly. The Christian is not at liberty to speak anything but the Truth. If he is a professed minister of the Gospel when the Truth reaches him, he is not to continue to preach error just because the congregation employing him do not want the Truth. A worldling in the pulpit would have no qualms of conscience. He would reason, "I am giving these people the very things they want. They are paying my salary, and this is purely a business proposition." The worldling calling himself a minister of Christ would take this position because he had never received the Spirit, the disposition, of the Truth—the Holy Spirit of begetting.
But one who receives the Truth in the love of it, who imbibes its spirit, would say, "I now see that many of the things I have been preaching for years are injurious, dishonoring to God, misrepresenting His character, and to some extent, at least, turning people away from the Truth. This is the very opposite of what I wish to do. I cannot longer dispense error. I am not an ambassador of a denomination or a congregation, I am an ambassador for God. I am not the servant of this congregation, but the servant of the Lord. If I should still preach error when I have come to see the Truth, I would be guilty before God."
THE HONOR OF OUR AMBASSADORSHIP
Such a faithful servant of God would by his uncompromising attitude lose his standing and his honor amongst men. But all this is not to be considered; for he would gain instead the favor and blessing of the Lord. The great Apostle declared that he counted all things but loss and dross, that he might win Christ and "be found inHim"—that he might gain a place in the everlasting Kingdom of Messiah. Those who succeed in so doing will win the "pearl of great price." So, then, the speaking of the Truth is absolutely essential to the life of the Christian. The Truth of God's Word is to be enshrined above all else in the heart of the child of God, and he should esteem it a blessed privilege to speak it.
Our power of speech, of communicating our thoughts to others, is the greatest power we possess—the most far-reaching. It is a potent factor for either good or evil, for either Truth or error. The opportunity to speak the Truth, to confess Christ before men, either publicly or privately, is a great privilege. In order to be a servant pleasing to the Lord, one who can be effectively used of Him, one must speak the Truth in love. When one has just entered the family of God, less might be reasonably expected of him than after he had been for some time in the family. We, as God's dear children are to grow in the likeness of our dear Elder Brother, our Pattern, our Head. We are to "grow up into Him in all things." We are to recognize that He is the Head of the Church; and that if we are to be members of His Body in glory, we must be developed. We are to bear the fruitage of the Holy Spirit, that we may be qualified to share in the future that glorious Kingdom which is to bless the world.
"EXPRESSION DEEPENS IMPRESSION"
We are to exercise our function of ambassadorship—we are to show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of the darkness into His marvelous light. And in telling the Message of His Grace we shall grow spiritually. "He that watereth shall himself also be watered." As we proclaim the Truth from an honest, earnest, loving heart we shall become more and more filled with it ourselves. "There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth and it tendeth to poverty"—to leanness of soul. As we give out to others, our own store of blessing is increased. We are to develop day by day this quality of love. Why is this? Because it will make us like God, and that is the one thing to be desired—the one thing necessary.
Our God has other glorious attributes besides Love, but this attribute is the especially predominating, overruling quality of His character. God's Justice co-operates with His Love. And His Wisdom would not attempt to carry out any plans that His Love would not approve. So as we grow, this quality of Love should be more and more manifest. We are to see that our words are loving, kind, gentle. We are to curb any tendency to self-glorification or show in telling of God's great Plan to others. Let us keep self out of sight, that the beauty of the Truth may be seen. Our manner of presenting the Message to others has much to do with its effectiveness. Speaking the Truth in love, we shall not only be accomplishing much more for others, but the Message will also be more impressed upon our own mind.
Whoever appreciates these things of God and then speaks forth in love and sincerity will receive a blessing in his own heart and mind, and the Truth will become clearer and sweeter. In helping others he will be helping himself. Thus the various features of the Plan of God become more firmly engraved upon his mind.
NATURAL QUALITIES THAT NEED RESTRAINT
In the cases of the stronger characters which come into Christ, we see a special need for watchfulness in the proclamation of the Truth. Those naturally lacking in combativeness would not be inclined to bring strong pressure to bear upon others in connection with their presentation of Truth. If their Message did not seem to be favorably received, they would be likely to feel, They do not like to hear what I have to say; so I will not talk any more on the subject. They might be too easily discouraged. But those who have more force, or combativeness, are liable to manifest this disposition in the way they present the Truth. They are inclined to be too forceful—to present the matter as an obligation.
But we are to remember that this is not a compulsory matter now. It is now an invitation, and is designed only for the meek, the teachable. By and by force will be needed, and used. Those who now have the hearing ear need only the word of instruction and counsel. Those who require force are not the ones the Lord is now seeking. If any of the Lord's ambassadors endeavor to crowd the Message upon others, it will arouse antagonism and lose its power. Thus our King would not be so well served, and hence would not be so well pleased.
Others of the Lord's people may have great approbativeness. They may have pride and may wish to show off their ability in language, or their skill in handling the Scriptures. They might give out the Message with the idea of arousing in others the thought, "See how much he knows—he is a master at handling the Bible!" Approbativeness seems to present quite a subtle temptation to many. This tendency of the flesh must be very carefully watched and subdued, or it will ruin the usefulness of the Christian and greatly hinder his own growth. Some naturally like to be in the lime-light, while others are just as anxious to keep out of it. The one might have to force himself in order to speak the Truth in public as an ambassador, while the other would need to curb himself somewhat. The only way for the latter to do is to learn to speak the Truth in love and in humility—to speak it out of love to God and love to the brethren. The Plan of the Ages is God's Plan. We have nothing whereof to boast. Therefore we should present that Plan in meekness, gentleness, brotherly-kindness and love.