It was an awkward moment.
Minutes before, my son’s friend was being nasty about his sunglasses, insulting his funky taste. When I encouraged words laced with the fruit of the Spirit, I got a sassy reply.
“Truth is one of the fruits of the Spirit.”
Because I wanted to diffuse the tense atmosphere, I just moved on, but I’ve thought about that response many times since.
If I’m honest, I often have a similar retort to anyone who confronts me or disagrees with me. I don’t always say it out loud, but these are the kinds of responses I have (often accompanied by an internal eye-roll).
“I’m just telling it like it is.”
“You shouldn’t get mad at me for telling the truth.”
There are two problems with those replies and the one my son’s friend gave that day:
- The statement my son’s friend gave about his glasses (and the ones I often hand out) elevated his opinion to the place of truth.
- Truth actually isn’t in that list of the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5: 22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
As I’m learning to listen, I need to apply the corollary truths from this story.
Don’t Elevate Your Opinion to His Truth
I’m very careful about how I use the word “truth” these days because it’s a powerful word. There’s telling the truth which is the opposite of telling a lie. There’s truth based on data and evidence. And then there’s Truth with a capital “t”– God’s truth which is only found in Scripture.
I find that I easily deceive myself, touting my “truths” (otherwise known as opinions) rather than standing on God’s Truth. I confessed it first, so now I’ll just say it… Sisters, that’s a dangerous place to be.
Years ago, my friend Anne Forbis shared a conversation she had with God. In it, He said to her, “Anne, your opinion blocks my revelation.”
Do you hear it with your name inserted? I do all the time. “Amy, your opinion blocks my revelation.”
In this stage of learning to listen, I’ve realized over and over again how my opinion– my “truths” that I cling to– also block my ability to listen. It’s not that truth isn’t important, it’s actually crucial. I just want to make sure that the truths I cling to are God’s Truths, not my own.
Apply the Fruit of the Spirit to Listening
Instead of giving into my overwhelming desire to insert my “truths” into conversations, I’m working to listen with love. With joy. With peace. With forbearance (or patience — which is important when I’m listening to things that I really, really disagree with)… you get the picture.
My opinions are limited to my knowledge, education and experience. Only clinging to God’s Truth while listening with an open heart expands my ability to hear and understand. This is a lesson that’s been a struggle, and I’m still learning.
It’s not that my opinions or points of view are meaningless. They’re helpful sometimes. But most times they just get in the way, and they’re better left unsaid. God’s Truths are the ones I’d rather stand on.
How do you tell the difference between your opinion and truth?