|Ethel Waters 1957|
Ephesians 4:15 lists the ability to speak “the truth in love” as one sign of Christian maturity. This is a two-way street. Because we love someone doesn’t keep us from telling them the truth, even when it hurts. On the other hand, “telling it like it is” doesn’t require that we be mean in the way we say it.
This was illustrated at the Billy Graham Crusade in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the summer of 1970, attended by President and Mrs. Richard M. Nixon. Who received the biggest ovation that night – the President or Billy? Neither! It was the seventy-year-old singer, actress, and TV personality, Ethel Waters.
Here’s how it happened. Demonstrators were chanting obscenities. As Ethel stood to sing, she said to them, “I love you, children, but if I was over there where you are, I’d just smack you. But I love you and I’d also give you a big hug and kiss and tell you so.” The hecklers fell silent, and the rest of the 75,000 people in the University of Tennessee stadium gave their biggest ovation of the evening. Ethel spoke the truth, but she spoke it in love. This is surely the meaning of Ephesians 4:14-15, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro…but speaking the truth in love, may grow up….”
Thought: Christian love is to will the well-being of the whole being of every being.
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