15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
“In love” does not mean to be soft and gentle. To show agape love (and this is the exact word from the original Greek) means with brotherly love, affection, good will. Many people think ‘in love’ means how you approach them but really ‘in love’ means why you do it. Are you trying to save them from making a mistake? Are you trying to impart truth? Are you trying to shine the light on their error? When you do these things you do love that person. There is a time for boldness and gentleness but if you rebuke in a tone louder than a whisper, most people would think of you as unloving. Removing stumbling blocks for your brother is an act of love. Exposing false doctrine is an act of love. Correcting and rebuking is an act of love.
“Speaking the truth” is one word in the Greek – “alhqueontev” or aletheuo (al-ayth-yoo). It means “to be true in doctrine and profession”. It also means “to tell no lie”. Interestingly, many of the people who blindly exhort others to “speak the truth” fail to recognize the critical component in this exhortation — TRUTH!!! If you speak a lie, that disqualifies you from “speaking the truth”. Truth be told, speaking the truth in love hurts at times.
Paul stated, will you that I come to you with a rod or in love and the spirit of meekness. Please know and understand, however that though a person may come with a rod, it doesn’t mean that they’re not coming in love. On the contrary, it is very much an act of love. The operative question is . . . will you receive it???
What of Jesus’ correction to His children? Would you call that unloving? He says the opposite: Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
“In love” comes down to motive. Are your motives pure? Are you speaking the truth because of a love in your heart for that person? Or…Are you trying to avoid conflict or are you trying to save someone from mistakes and sinning? Again, speaking the truth in love does not mean to be soft and avoid conflict. If you do avoid conflict, then that is an act of hate!