Kindness vs. Truth?

December 20, 2013

in Good Marriage, Spicy Quote

I saw this quote on facebook:

There are times that when truth and kindness conflict, one ought to choose kindness, especially when a little honesty is better than a lot.” Leroy Jack Syrop

© Barry Sherbeck |

I was pulled several ways at once by. How should that play out in a marriage?

As I’ve said before, I used to have a problem with the “in love” part of “speak the truth in love”. I have since come to the conclusion the love part is not optional, and truth without love is very possibly sin. If you can’t say it with love, you shouldn’t say it. If it needs to be said, figure out how to say it in love.

However, I don’t think we should avoid saying things that will hurt. Sometimes sharing a painful truth is the most loving thing possible. A painful truth can save the person even worse hurt. A painful truth may need to be shared to help or protect others. For example, if your spouse is too hard on the kids, a loving, private discussion is necessary for the sake of the children.

This isn’t about balance. When stated, the truth must always be shared with great love and grace. Some truth is painful but not helpful; how can one lovingly share such a thing?


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I find this a constant struggle, mostly because kindness doesn't come naturally, and it seems easier to speak the "truth" to puff myself up, and to reform my wife into what I think she should be. However, in those golden moments where kindness and truth meet, I do think that painful truth can be delivered kindly, the same way removing a splinter or cleaning a wound is a kind act that inflicts pain.



Another thought to the two already listed might be that the "love" in Ephesians 4:15 is agapē or "seeking the highest good of the other." So when we look for correct ways to "speak the truth in love" it is tempered with the other person's need in our heart. What do they need to hear that I am going to mention? Or am I simply commenting out of a personal need I have to say something? (Too often that is my reality)

All too often I have shared what was on my mind. In these later years I have found that many people do not always want what I have to share with them. I can think on my feet quickly, too often to my demise.

Watching my wife, I have learned the art of better discernment (I hear James 1:19 in the background). She does not process information as quickly as I do. She is very intelligent, but her mind works differently than mine. So I at first thought she was not wanting to comment to me when I spoke to her. Now I have come to realize that she is pondering a more accurate answer. She is helping me "speak the truth in love" considering the other persons needs first. Wow, do I love that lady!

Thanks for your post!!! 


Wow, I have lived two versions of this topic. I have been annoyed by people and intelligently pointed out what was wrong with them. I was not particularly rude, but I was honest. In the case of strangers, that has at times gone terribly wrong. In the case of loved ones, it has caused deep wounds because "I did not know my own strength".

The other version is when I started out annoyed, asked the Holy Spirit for His eyes, and then got a new perspective of the other person. At times, I have simply prayed using that new perspective and occasionally, I have shared it with the other person. That tends to have a significant impact for good. With one coworker, I offended him using the first version. A year later, I humbled myself enough to see him with God's eyes. When I left that workplace, he told that I was one of the few good people in the world. It broke my heart to hear him say that! I had simply gotten a glimpse of God saw him and shared with him. I wish that I could say that I have matured enough to always see people with God's eyes, but I can say that God gives me opportunities to put on those lens every day. 


Hi Paul, thanks for this post. I like how you share both views. Just reading your post initially reminded me of the early apostles and how they sought to share the truth about the gospel with as much 'love' as they possibly could, only to be flogged. The thing we need to remember while sharing truth is that we are only responsible for our own response.

Sometimes however loving and innocently you put across a much needed truth, it may not always bring about the right response there and then, or ever for that matter. And we are in no way responsible for how somebody else reacts to the truth, if we have done our bit of stating it politely, with gentleness and in some cases for some truths, firmly, in an assertive manner.

You asked how can one lovingly share a painful truth, well, the willingness to share a painful truth is love in itself. Ofcourse taking the time to discuss details surrounding it rather than leaving it with an accusation, and reaffirming the person with the other positive things they do is a good way of sharing painful truth. Some people may not be ready for painful truth and sometimes it is better left undealt with until a better time. May the Lord grant us his discernment to know what to say and when to say it. Happy Christmas to you and family.

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@JonBeaty7 Spot on with the splinter analogy! I suppose the love part is doing it gently, as opposed to just digging and yanking without any regard to the pain it causes. 

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@creamnroses  "we are only responsible for our own response"

So very, very true. The response of others does not tell us if we did right or not, and that is a double edged sword. It is easy to dismiss their anger with "they just don't like the truth" and fail to look at the possibly we did not speak as we should. On the other hand, we can take their anger as evidence we should have said nothing, when in fact their anger is because of the truth, not our approach.

Happy Christmas to you and yours. 

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