We often use the phrase ‘speaking the truth in love’, but I’m not sure how much of the time it is truth and how much it is in love, a bit like Bombay chicken, Bombay is not called that anymore and it has as much chicken in as tofu burger. Sometimes it seems like a good excuse to vent our issues and get rid of our garbage. Garbage is not destroyed by dumping it on to someone else, it is merely translated. You may feel better but your stuff is now rubbishing their garden. There is only one place to deal with garbage and that is at the foot of the cross through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Having said that, there is a great need to speak the truth in love to one another, but with the heart with which it was written.
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, (Ephesians 4:11-15 ESV)
The aim is that we are no longer children tossed about by the waves, thrown here and there by the winds but as a body we protect each other, and help each other to grow. Where we see one falling into error or being blown around by different ideas, speaking the truth from a heart of love will bring them back. The truth calms the storm and stills the wind, it regains perspective so that amidst the raging seas where we have lost our bearings, we can be restored. Truth is the compass with true north and the only thing from which we can take a bearing. It is not an excuse to offload or criticise but it is from a revelation of the body of Christ and an experiential knowledge of his love that we desire to see unity. It is from revelation of the bride of Christ that if we should see someone slipping into error or being blown off course that we restore them. Restoring a brother or sister from this position is one of humility and love for our saviour, not of self righteous condemnation of another. Our position in speaking the truth in love is to approach on bended knees, knowing that the winds and currents that have influenced another can also influence us.