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Category Archives: relationships

Speak the Truth in Love

How many of you have tried to receive correction from a fellow believer, but they made you feel like a total loser in the process? Have you experienced the same thing in the world? I imagine these situations would likely come up in the workplace, with friends or acquaintances, recreational activities, etc. Well, I don’t know about you, but I have come to realize that it is not just about what you are saying. It is equally, if not more important, how you say it.

Ephesians 4:14-16 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (NKJV)

constructive criticism

When you give someone constructive criticism, it should be with a heart that echoes, “I love you and want to see you do better and be better.” It should always be for the best interest of the person, not your own. Unfortunately, there is something about the flesh that likes to “put people in their place.” There seems to be some twisted enjoyment in belittling others and that “I’m better than you” tone often times surfaces. I am thankful for people who are sensitive enough to go out of their way to consider other people’s feelings and emotions.

Now I know that some of you might be squirming because you might be thinking that I’m encouraging “coddling” or “sugar-coating” the issues when confronting or ministering to someone. Please be assured that that couldn’t be further from the truth. I know all too well that coddling and babying folks doesn’t work. If we love someone or at least have their best interests at heart, we tell them the truth no matter how hard it may be. These types of situations can even result in the loss of a friendship, but we have to trust the Lord even more. The Word even endorses a sharp rebuke, but it doesn’t endorse belittling and making people feel like crap.

Titus 1:13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, (NKJV)

People are going to naturally be offended by the truth. We can’t do anything to control that. However, when the truth is not spoken in love, it does more damage than good. The individual who needs to hear the truth is unable to because of how it was presented to them. Whether it is a nasty disposition, a mocking/taunting attitude, unnecessary facial expressions and body language, those things can get in the way of the person hearing the truth in their hearts. In essence we actually end up trying to play the Holy Spirit and the result often times is that the person gets hurt even more than before because of how they were addressed. Now I do want to clarify that a sharp rebuke is still supposed to be done in love. The problem comes in when one talks down to people instead of talking with them. We have to remember that the truth in itself is already going to hurt them to a degree. Truth does not need our help to get its point across.

I can recall various times when I have heard pastors and ministers in church talk about people with specific issues and it didn’t feel like ministry at all. There words and taunts might have been laced with Scripture, but they did not lead to godly sorrow, which leads to true repentance. The spirit in which they operated brought on belittlement and shame. There is a huge difference between the two! It is hard to receive truth and/or correction when someone is talking down to you and treating you like you are beneath them. Sometimes you can unconsciously do this and not be aware of it. I know I have done this over the years and it was brought to my attention a number of times. Thank God I have a changed heart and now I go out of my way to make sure that I’m showing people the proper level of respect when it comes to ministering or just giving constructive criticism. From personal experience, I can receive harsh correction from someone if I believe that they are coming from a sincere and loving heart. But if someone is talking at me and making me feel like some kind of idiot or even resorting to name-calling, it becomes nearly impossible to receive what is being spoken to me. At that point, I don’t even believe that it is necessarily correction. It’s just a form of bullying.

bullying

God shows us new mercies every day. He is more than patient with us, as well as gentle with us. He will chastise and rebuke, but He never does it in a way to trash or demean us. After all, He is The Father. No father would hurt his children in that way, at least not intentionally. So let’s all follow the example of Paul and remember to do our best to speak the truth to others with a spirit of love.

Nathan Allen Copyright ©2013

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I DO See Color

I have a confession to make

That when I look at people, I DO see color…

I see melatonin manifesting in various shades of browns, tans and even buttermilk

Some like coffee beans or toffee, others like caramel or candied yams

Others like peaches and cream

Creating the backdrop of each individual canvas

That was imagined in the heart of the Creator before the very foundations of the earth

And then He began to put together each masterpiece

Just like a collage

A stroke of a brush here

Affixing a shape there

Forming straight, curly, wavy and different hues and textures of hair

And now we have cheek bones high and low

People of every nation uniquely created in His image to show

That we are all wonderful works of art adored by the One

Who is perfected beauty

Eye gates taking shape of almonds, or enchanted with slants

Or circles of brightness, cloaked in innocence or piercing the soul of another

Blue, brown, hazel, green, gray or even a mixture of colors

And whether we know it or not

We were all meant to be sisters and brothers

Big, little, medium, flat and pointed noses

Matters not because we can all still smell the roses

Lips whether thin or full designed to give holy kisses

Speaking in native tongues to spread the gospel around the world

But all can receive a heavenly language while the Holy Spirit intercedes

On our behalf

We all come from the Heavenly Father so we are all the same

But the way He uniquely made us in His image should not bring us shame

And it is not to blame for our human frailty

So let’s celebrate our differences and not ignore them

Appreciate the artistry of God and adore them

The shape of your ears

Does not determine whether or not you can hear

The voice of the Lord

The sound of your voice is not your choice

We are not happenstance

We are all on purpose designed with a purpose

To embrace the narrow ways of the Kingdom culture

To be reconciled back to Him

So yes even though you are my sister you are my brother

I do see your color

And it’s beautiful.

It has become very common for people to make the statement, “I don’t see color.” While I understand the sentiment and intent, I have a different take on race as you can probably see now from my poem. I don’t believe in ignoring differences, I believe in celebrating them. If God wanted us all to be the same then do you think He would have allowed the different ethnicities? Not likely. True enough, our race should NEVER determine our identity because that is found in Christ. All who accept Jesus as lord and savior become citizens of the Kingdom, as well as brothers and sisters. The essence of who each of us is individually is found in our divine purpose. But what I want to stress is that I also do not believe that race and ethnicity are insignificant. I believe wholeheartedly that there is a purpose for it and that we should not minimize a characteristic that has been God-ordained.

One of my absolute favorite places to go here in Atlanta is the Dekalb Farmer’s Market. The majority of the clientele are foreigners from all over the world. There is even a flag of every nation that hangs from the market ceiling. I LOVE seeing the different facial features and skin tones. Hearing the different accents and native tongues is like music to my ears. Maybe it is just the artist in me or the fact that I have traveled abroad that makes me feel this way. Sometimes there are people whom I can’t quite tell their nationality or ethnicity, so I play the guessing game. I’ve even been bold enough to approach such individuals and inquire of them about their nationality. A nice conversation almost always results and I learn something new.

Unfortunately, due to history and human frailty, the very concept of race in this country has become a bad thing. Identifying the race of people has now become negative. What a shame… So because pop culture desires a “post-racial” society, many folks say that they don’t see “color.” I guess people feel that this is the best means to put an end to racism and stereotypes. Personally, I think it is an easy way out of not addressing our own issues surrounding race. I have matured in my walk with the Lord where I can say that I am a man of God first and foremost, and that takes precedence over my ethnicity. However, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t appreciate the fact that I’m a Black American man. I should be proud of the skin I’m in. I should be proud of my full lips, my brown eyes and other physical features I possess. Every person on the planet should be proud of who they are because we are all made in His image; each in our own unique way.

Revelation 7:9-10 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (NKJV)

God in His magnificent splendor is the original artist that always has been. As I said in my poem, we are all beautiful works of art. We are all original master pieces that He envisioned before time ever existed. I’m not going to ignore His works of art. I choose to see colors because they represent the diverse, endless creativity of the Heavenly Father. I choose to celebrate. I can only imagine the day when we are the great multitude in Revelations 7 worshipping like never before. Colors blended into one that is eternal and represents a beauty that we have yet to see. Amen.

Nathan Allen Copyright© 2012

 
 

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