How to Balance Truth & Love in Relationships

Confronting people is uncomfortable.

I, for one, struggle in this area constantly.

But if there’s anything I learned, it’s that it all comes back to the heart.

Proverbs 21:2 says that every way of man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. So, even if you’re in the right to confront someone, your intentions and heart motives are important. They reveal the quality of your character.

No one is born with an excellent character, though; it’s cultivated, trained, and revealed by how one deals with everyday situations. It can also reflect our upbringing.

You may have grown up in a household where things got swept under the rug, or where everyone yelled at each other until the issue got resolved (or not). Or maybe it was a healthy environment, with room for open discussion and honesty.

But no matter how you were raised, you can always change and improve your communication and get better at confrontation. You can strengthen your character and grow as an individual. Your communication skills are not dependent on your past, but they are important for your future.

In today’s culture, confrontation is difficult to communicate and also receive. But it takes practice, especially when you want to do it from a place of truth and love. You can confront and receive confrontation in both truth and love. It can be tricky, but as I mentioned earlier, it comes back to the heart.

I love this quote by Timothy Keller,

“Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.”

Timothy Keller, Meaning of Marriage

We need both. But how do you balance the two?

How do you balance truth and love when you see someone doing something wrong?
How do you balance it when someone has wronged you and you got hurt?
How do you balance it when there’s sin involved?
How do you help at all?

Before we dive into balancing truth and love, I want to talk about the purpose of confrontation:

Should you even have this conversation?

Wikipedia describes confrontation as an element of conflict wherein parties confront one another, directly engaging one another in the course of a dispute between them. Wikipedia

This helps us understand that confrontation immediately involves 2 people. Yet, most people who want to confront don’t realize that the other person doesn’t know they’re about to be confronted.

If you need or want to confront someone, understand that they probably don’t even know it. While you’re ruminating, overthinking, and coming up with what to say, the other person has their mind on other things.

This is helpful to know because it gets you out of your head a little. It helps you see the situation from a bird’s-eye view and the purpose of the conversation at all.

If you need to confront, consider the purpose, or your desired outcome.

According to professor Kathryn MacCluskie, effective confrontation promotes insight and awareness, reduces resistance, promotes open communication, and leads to positive changes in people’s emotions, thoughts, and actions.

Confrontation should grow both individuals personally and relationally.

In the next few minutes, I’ll talk about how to balance truth & love in confrontational conversations. The next few points will help you understand how it all comes back to the heart, depends on your relationship and the situation you’re in.

Balancing Truth & Love

It depends on your relationship.

To start with, it depends on your relationship. How close are you to the person? How comfortable are both of you in having open and honest conversations?

This will determine if you even need to worry about balancing truth and love. Your level of closeness results in the amount of acceptance, vulnerability, and comfortability within the conversation.

However, if you’re not that close, consider the following questions:

  1. What is your motive?
  2. Will it lead to a better outcome for you AND the other person?
  3. Will it strengthen your relationship?
  4. Does it go against God or His word?

These questions will help you determine first where you stand, and second, what will be effective. When you just want to “say what you need to say,” it’s more so for your benefit. The confronted will listen, but they may not hear you. The truth comes out, but it isn’t received.

On the same scale, dismissing and okaying something that should be addressed is like watching another person drink dirty water. It might be fine now, but later they could get sick.

Truth and love back each other up. And in all relationships, one won’t come without the other if you understand the answers to the questions above.

It depends on your motive.

Let’s talk about motives.

We’re quick to see others in the wrong, so we must ask ourselves about our motives. We must check our hearts and also ask God to help us see the situation through His eyes.

He searches and knows your heart better than you do. If you’re still bouncing back and forth about confronting, ask God to reveal any hidden motives and selfish agendas. If you want to balance truth and love in a conversation, you must know the truth and love.

Not to be cliche, but what would Jesus do? What were his motives? How did he do it?

After all, he is the essence of love and truth. But his motive stemmed from his connection to the Father. He did nothing from his own will.

Understanding what God says about confrontation and communicating effectively will help you balance both truth and love. Filling yourself with the Word and will of God will help you act from a place of truth and love.

It will help keep the other person in mind. It increases your compassion, empathy, and kindness towards others. And it takes the pressure off of you, because you no longer do it alone and in your own strength, but with God.

When truth and love is revealed to you, it’s easier to pass it on to another. So ask God to reveal it to you and to fill you with it.

It depends on the situation.

Last, it depends on the situation.

The balance of truth and love in confrontations is case by case.

It will vary in all of your relationships, but if you understand these fundamental principles, it will be easier for you to move forward, grow in emotional intelligence, increase confidence, and ultimately, strengthen your relationships. That’s the goal.

But sometimes, the situation proves to be a LOT more tricky, leaving us more afraid of the outcome than the actual confrontation. Therefore, it often becomes seldom and avoided.

No matter what kind of situation it is, you can’t control how a person will respond to or receive your confrontations. But you can control your attitude and approach towards the situation. You can be bigger than the situation by aligning yourself to the heart of God and keeping your character in check.

2 Timothy 1:7 says that God gave you a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind, NOT fear. So when you are fearful of the outcome, ask God to make you more aware of this truth, and go back to those questions:

  1. What is your motive?
  2. Will it lead to a better outcome for you AND the other person?
  3. Will it strengthen your relationship?
  4. Does it go against God or His word?

More often than not, others are grateful for confrontation. It’s just us who take a while to work up the courage for it. Which is why I want to emphasize on the importance of your heart. Even if your heart isn’t in the right place, pursue truth and love, and let it transform you.

Conclusion

Overall, anyone who is actively looking to improve themselves will balance truth and love successfully. In their eyes, it may not be so because they’ll find something new to learn and pursue improvement in all areas of their lives.

You made it this far into the post, so that’s you. Continue to fill yourself with truth and love and pass it on to others, especially when you need to confront.

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