How come we do not always tell the truth to each other? We would not intentionally, out right, lie. We probably learned the difference as a child when we made up a story to avoid parental wrath, but soon discovered that the penalty for inventive genius is worse that the truthfully admitted trespass. How come we slip around the truth without even realizing it? How about the falsehoods in commercials? We are sold false ideas that the products will produce changes. They will make us happy.
It is the content of human thinking that makes the difference between misery and happiness. What matters is not the event, but how a person appraises and evaluates the event. What occurs outside him does not make him joyful or wretched, angry or benevolent, peaceful or turbulent. What he believes about the event makes all the difference.
The principles taught in “Telling Each Other the Truth” can improve relationships. But the aim is at improving your own speech and actions, recognizing that the other person’s behavior is his own responsibility, and changing it is God’s business. This ends the effort to control that person, and thus relieve you of a great burden. If you focus on bringing your own words and deeds into line with loving truth, you will be gratified with success, whether or not your spouse or friend shapes up according to your wishes.
In Luke 11:9,10 and Phil 4:6 both Jesus and Paul advocate direct requests to God. So, if direct honest expression enhances a person’s relationship with the holy Creator of heaven and earth, it is bound to enhance his relationships with brothers and sisters in the family of God. The authors of this book continue to give examples of direct requests, when and how. Examples are given of what people do instead of asking directly. (see pages 67-80) After the request, love may react with compliance, refusal, or an alternative offer.
How come people have difficulty resolving problems? One thing to consider is that often they develop the notion that the problem is the other person and not something in the other person’s behavior. Each abandons the aim of resolving the original difficulty and sets out to prove that the other is bad.
This whole book is centered on chapter 10, Wrapping the Truth in Love. Love means acting in the other person’s best interests. If I love you, I speak the truth to you, not only for my benefit, but also for yours. I seek the best not only for myself or for those to whom I feel drawn and attracted, but for all those with whom I associate. In all my actions, including my speech, I am to work for the other person’s highest good.
- Loving speech doesn’t put down.
- Loving speech rewards others.
- Loving speech admits faults.
- Loving speech avoids anger.
In an attempt to work out a conflict with someone, first agree on three stipulations: (1) Forgive the past and let the past remain a bygone; (2) both persons are equal in validity of their needs, wishes, wants, and feelings; (3) you are willing to make some changes yourself.
Observe the following principles:
- Never begin in the heat of an argument.
- Tell the other person (1) what he has done, (2) how it hurts you, (3) what the consequences are, and (4) what you would like him to do differently.
- Keep it task-and-problem-oriented; don’t get personal.
- No put-downs.
- No defensiveness or attacking.
- The person who is hurt is right about being hurt-don’t argue that he shouldn’t be hurt.
- Learn to listen.
- Express understanding, or if possible, agreement in your response to admonition.
- Tell your own wishes in response to admonition.
- Work together toward compromise.
The greatest power in the universe and the most potent force available to man is love. Not assertiveness. Not “standing up for my rights.” Not telling other people off. The greatest power ever known is the power of love.
Love brought the world into being. Love moved God to send His Son to identify with the fallen race of men and yield up His life for our salvation. Love broke the stranglehold of sin, of death, and of the forces of evil.
Telling Each Other the Truth by William Backus