Friday, 14 March 2014


Talent Show JudgeHave you ever watched one of those "talent" search TV shows where someone who is convinced they are a world-class singer gets their big break to sing to the world and when they do, despite the desire and determination to be a pop-star, they obviously can't sing?!

Before millions of people watching on television they are then humiliated and made the object of YouTube mockery! But I wonder how people can go through so much of their life and not ever have someone tell them the truth about their dire lack of singing ability? Or maybe some did...
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 
Ephesians 4:15
Simon CowellSome people are convinced that they are good (even great) at something (such as singing) when, in fact, they are not. I suspect that some people, not wishing to offend, will simply tell someone what they want to hear becuase they want to encourage them. I love people like this! They are encouragers through and through. Thank God for them. I suspect that there are some other people who form a judgment about someone's lack of ability and say nothing. These people are not naturally encouragers but neither are they liars - they can't tell someone they are good at something they are clearly not. Then I suspect that there are some people who just tell it like it is. Their primary motivation is to be truthful - not to be encouraging or even caring.
Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence,
but a false witness utters deceit.

Proverbs 12:17


So I've been wondering: How do you tell a bad singer that they are a bad singer? After all, singing is a window into the heart of the singer and criticising a singer is therefore an injury felt in their heart. But as these various Talent TV shows prove, if no one convincingly tells a bad singer that they can not sing, they are going to have their heart hurt even more painfully and this time on national television before millions of mocking crtics. However we answer this important question, it will probably be done best when we do our utmost to apply Ephesians 4:15 - speaking the truth in love.

Speaking the truth in love rarely means being rude, blunt, or harsh. But neither does it mean lying. The fact that I am thinking out loud about this important problem should probably indicate to you that I don't do this well. Therefore anything I say about this has come about not becuase of any great wisdom I pretend to possess, but from the hundreds of times when I have got it horribly wrong. In this light, interpret my advice as a confession of my many mistakes.
  • TRUTH SOUNDS LOVING when you have developed a relationship of trust with the person you are speaking to.
  • TRUTH SOUNDS LOVING when you get permission to say it.
  • TRUTH SOUNDS LOVING when you separate the person from the problem.
  • TRUTH SOUNDS LOVING when highlight positives while pointing out the negatives.
  • TRUTH SOUNDS LOVING when you haven't told everyone else before you've said it directly to the person you're talking about.


As tricky as it is to speak the truth in love, it is no where near as tricky as hearing the truth in love. In fact, based on my random guess, I would say that hearing the truth correctly and accepting it is about 63% of the determining factor involved in the Truth With Love equation. In all probability, many of the bad singers who audition for these TV Talent shows have more than likely had several people try to tell them that they can't sing. But what if they hadn't? This was a topic of discussion for our small group this week when our Bible Study group was considering the verse in Romans 12 about forming a "sober judgment" about yourself and not "thinking of yourself more highly than you ought." The question was asked about such talent show contestants whether others had tried to tell them the truth about their lack of talent. "Surely", said someone in our group, "surely they have people who care about them?" The question presumed the Truth With Love principle is going to be best practiced by those who care for the person. But this question also makes another presumption: that the person being told the truth will receive it in love.
¶ For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 12:3
Receiving the truth requires hearing well. As difficult as I have found it to speak the truth in love to someone, it pales dramatically compared with my general thin-skinned lack of ability to hear the truth with love from someone. Sometimes I just don't want to hear the truth. Sometimes, although I know that what I am being told is true, I won't hear it because I don't like it.

The follower of Christ is commanded in Romans 12:3 how to think and therefore, by implication, how to hear what others tell them. How well do I do this? How well do you do this? Our truth-targets may not be our singing. It may be our attitude. It may be our punctuality. It may be our level of sacrifice for our family, for our church, for our State. It may be our workmanship. Our ability to hear the truth and our attitude about hearing it from others is a large factor in whether others even attempt to love us with the truth.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Second Timothy 4:3-4
Sermon illustration
¶ Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 
James 1:19
How we speak to others is a refection of how we love others. But how we hear others is a reflection of how easy we are to love. James links listening with speaking and getting angry. I imagine that he experienced what many of us have experienced when we've tried to talk to someone we love about something that needed to be said because it was true. In our attempt to say something true to them, they get defensive and do more talking than listening - and then eventually get angry with us. [Sigh] And while I find this frustrating in others, I am far less able to hear how others might find it frustrating when trying to be truthful with me. The sober judgment of Romans 12:3 calls the follower of Christ not to be defensive ("I can't change now ... This is who I am ... If others don't like the way I do it then they can ... I'm too old to change now ... Who do you think you are to talk to me like that! ... Well that's just your opinion - there are many others who love my singing!" ... ). Can we hear the truth? Hearing the truth is one of the first steps in letting others love us. And as strange as it sounds, there are many people looking for love who actually make it difficult for others to love them because they don't hear well - if you hear what I'm saying?

Ps. Andrew

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