Truth in Love
When entering into politically divisive conversations today, it’s important to do so with a hard head and a soft heart.
In other words, the best way to enter the conversational “fray” in today’s culture is to have a hard head toward principle and a soft heart toward people. A hard head toward principle is to remain unbending on truth as God defines it, while a soft heart toward people is to love others unconditionally as God created them to be loved.
When you are hard headed toward principle, while at the same time soft-hearted toward people, it allows you to connect with the heart and not just simply “win the argument.”
Jesus calls this speaking the truth in love.
You definitely don’t want to be soft-headed and hard-hearted, because if you’re soft-headed toward principle, you’ll stand for nothing, getting tossed around like the waves of the sea. And if you’re hard-headed toward people, you’ll become insensitive, forcing others to “think like me!”
So the key is to have a hard head and a soft heart – to speak the truth in love.
I (David) had to live this out last week as my brother and I flew to St. Louis to speak at a pro-life gathering.
I was settling in my seat for a relaxing flight when an older woman plopped down in the seat next to me and said, “I just want you to know I’m an ultra-liberal feminist who probably thinks nothing like you.”
Now that’s a great way to start a conversation! I’m still not 100 percent sure why she said it.
My gut instinct was to immediately engage her and try to dismantle her worldview point by point, proving how conservative values are better for the nation than liberal ones. But I couldn’t stop wondering why she was so abrupt with me.
My hard head was ready to engage, but my soft heart was pricked. So I paused a second and whispered a quick prayer for the right words.
I began asking questions about her family and career, trying to figure out where she was coming from. And the more I listened, the more I realized she didn’t need me to prove her wrong. She needed me to hear her heart.
She eventually got to the point that her son was struggling with depression and anxiety and how it weighed heavy on her. Her life was also shifting into a new season, which had brought about some anxiety for her as well. So I knew it wasn’t the right time to talk politics.
I felt a nudge in my spirit say, “Read to her Psalm 139.”
So I opened my phone and began reading …
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them! (Psalms 139:13-17)
In the middle of my reading, she began to cry. I watched her wipe the tears away while I read. God’s word was speaking directly to her heart – more than any words I could have said to her.
She stopped me after verse 17 and said: “It’s weird I’m telling you this, but I was adopted as a newborn and have always felt abandoned by my birth mom. I still have recurring dreams of me at the hospital as a baby, laying in a crib and saying to myself (like an adult would speak), ‘Nobody needs to feel sorry for me – I’ll take care of myself!’”
Wow. She got right to the root of her feminism without me saying a single word.
With tears still streaming down her cheeks, she released all that had been pent up in her for years. When she heard God’s word – how He cared for her, thought about her, and was with her all along – it warmed her heart and released her emotions.
I even started to tear up as I began to tell her how Jesus had the power to break the chains of abandonment, fear and anxiety. I shared other scriptures with her as well and encouraged her to place her trust in Him as her Father. She even began making notes in her phone with the references!
It was truly an impactful moment for both of us – and even Jason joined the conversation after he woke up from his open-mouthed, ugly face sleep.
So I’m encouraged today, and I hope you are as well, that in the midst of such divisive – and downright nasty – times we can be people with hard heads toward principle, yet soft hearts toward people.
The last thing we want to do is prove the point but lose the person.