John 8:31, 32 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
One of the more important teachings that I heard years ago that has impacted me greatly involved these verses. It had to do with becoming and staying free. Simply put, in order to become free and stay free we each must become a ‘Lover of the truth’.
Three days ago I wrote of the blessing of family, friends and co-workers who were willing to be a part of my repenting process in dealing with my anger. This was something I asked them to do. But how do we respond when such input hurts or comes in an inappropriate manner or from someone we don’t like?
Suppose you’re in an interaction that becomes a bit unpleasant. As you walk away, a close friend discreetly says to you, “You could have been more kind in your response.” Versus, being told by a participant, “Boy, were you a jerk in that meeting!” and then he walks off.
Criticism or ‘descriptive observations of our behavior’ are more palatable to us if they’re offered in a kind manner. Even so, they can still be difficult to receive. A concerned spouse says, “You’re angry.” Your response, “NO I’M NOT!!!!”
When such information is offered in anger, in sarcasm, by someone we don’t have a relationship with, or particularly by someone we don’t like, we tend to react defensively. The tendency is to reject the message because we reject the messenger! Whatever truth might be in the criticism/observation offered us we tend to reject out-of-hand because of who offered it or the way in which it was given. We choose to react rather than respond – and it is a choice!
At times God will specifically use unpleasant people with negative deliveries to present us with an important truth about ourselves. It’s a test – and life is filled with them. Will we look past the messenger and how the message is presented to find and embrace the truth He has for us? The more we become lovers of the truth, the freer we become. We choose to respond rather than react. Lord Jesus, help us all become lovers of the truth!