A huge challenge I find many people encounter in counseling is how to speak the truth in love; what it means to be assertive, rather than aggressive, passive, or passive aggressive. How do we confront people with the truth without being judgmental, controlling or self-righteous; in other words “speak the truth in love”? And how do we offer grace and mercy to others, lift them up, be encouraging and supportive, without being enabling, lukewarm or sugarcoating?

There, unfortunately, is no one easy answer that applies in all situations and all relationship dynamics. Rather, we need to prayerfully seek God’s will and apply Scripture on a case by case basis, as we all need both soft love (grace and mercy) and tough love (iron sharpening iron). Galatians 6:1 tells us “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (ESV)

For additional reading on this subject, Henry Cloud’s book “Changes That Heal” is an excellent resource for self-growth and improving relational skills. Early in the book, Henry addresses this Grace and Truth dilemma, and gives a good analogy of how we need to have a right balance of both in life and in our relationships. I also recommend Philip Yancey’s book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” and James Dobson’s “Love Must Be Tough” for further insight and examples of ways to appropriately balance grace and truth.

Written by Roberta Vondrak, LCPC