Sweet words and pleasing man

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One of the most difficult realities of the Christian faith is that when we speak the Truth, we will be rejected by some, even as others come to embrace that same truth. We become, to use Paul’s description, the fragrance of death to those who are perishing (2 Cor 2:16).

But knowing it to be so doesn’t make it easier, doesn’t it? Sometimes it’s so tempting to avoid confrontation or to try to win people over with sweet words – after all, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, or so the saying goes. And yet, we must be careful that our sweetness doesn’t become something else: a desire to please men over God. May this never be so; instead, let us heed the counsel of Spurgeon who said:

You and I cannot be useful if we want to be sweet as honey in the mouths of men. God will never bless us if we wish to please men, that they may think well of us. Are you willing to tell them what will break your own heart in the telling and break theirs in the hearing? If not, you are not fit to serve the Lord. You must be willing to go and speak for God, though you will be rejected.

The Message From The Lord’s Mouth, Volume 24, Sermon #1431 – Ezekiel 3:17 (as published in Through the Eyes of C.H. Spurgeon, edited by Stephen McCaskell)

While this does not give us license to speak cruelly in the name of “truth” – to do so only distorts that which we confess and shows a lack of the fruit of the Spirit in our character – it is better to speak the truth in love (that is, speak kindly, firmly, boldly, and charitably), knowing God’s pleasure is our highest aim and accepting its rejection by men.

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  • Amber

    I’d like to advocate for sweet words (which probably won’t surprise you). I think most times when people speak of catching more flies with honey, they’re not talking about the words that are spoken (the content of the message) but the way you speak. Our hearers can most always tell if we are saying truth with a critical spirit, a negative spirit or a judging spirit. But if we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will share truth while still having His fruit in our words – patience, self control, kindness and gentleness.

    When we don’t, what results is simply a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal, and no one can hear the truth through the noise of our negative spirit.

    There’s definitely truth that some only want to share love and not truth. But we shouldn’t eschew the fruits of the Spirit in an effort to speak boldly.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Nope, doesn’t surprise me and I don’t disagree, either. I’ve clarified that in the post by rephrasing the final thought as follows:

      While this does not give us license to speak cruelly in the name of “truth” – to do so only distorts that which we confess and shows a lack of the fruit of the Spirit in our character – it is better to speak the truth in love (that is, speak kindly, firmly, boldly, and charitably), knowing God’s pleasure is our highest aim and accepting its rejection by men.

      • Amber

        By the way, I didn’t mean to imply that your post contradicted what I said – just the other side of the coin!

        • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

          Didn’t think you did; but your comments helped me notice that there was a bit of clarification needed in what I originally wrote :)