A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

Do you want a medical doctor with a good bedside and pleasant personality or one who has the knowledge, the integrity, and the wisdom to tell you honestly what you need to do in a health crisis?

Do you vote for a legislator who will vote exactly your opinions, or a man of integrity, who has access to information you do not have, who has the knowledge and wisdom to vote for your best interests as well as the rest of his constituents?

Do you choose a pastor because he promises wealth and health and happiness no matter your spiritual condition, or a man of compassion and integrity who opens the Word of God and explains it truthfully so that you can live a life of compassion and integrity, at peace with God?

I know, I know, summer’s over and life is really, really busy, and you really don’t have the time to be asking yourself such esoteric questions. You might even protest, “But of course I want the truth from others.” But sometimes we don’t even realize we are making a choice. So it’s good to ask ourselves these questions, not just because they affect our future, but because our eternal destiny is at stake.

Years ago a woman in our church came to me for counsel. She said, “My doctor told me I was morbidly obese.”

“So what did you do?”

“I changed doctors.”

Well, that’s one way to avoid an unwelcome diagnosis—but it didn’t solve her health problems. King Solomon wrote,

Open rebuke is better
Than love carefully concealed.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Proverbs 27:5,6 nkjv

An aggressive, out-spoken woman once said to me, “I always speak my mind, no pussy-footing, no soft-coating. I just tell it exactly like it is.” But that’s not how a true friend speaks the truth. Yes, they always tell the truth even when it hurts. But they temper their “rebukes” with loving kindness and with compassion, understanding how hard the path ahead may be. Truth spoken in love cannot be faulted. Ephesians 4:15 says,

“Speak the truth in love.”

The Apostle Paul sets a good example for those ministering to people: “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He is the one who examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you very well know. And God is our witness that we were not just pretending to be your friends so you would give us money!” (I Thessalonians 2:4,5 (nlt).

A friend of mine, a nurse, told me of a pediatric cancer doctor at a local hospital whom some nurses criticized because of his lack of a “good bedside manner.” He sometimes walked into a hospital room, to say flatly to the parents of an ill child, “Your child has leukemia, and I do not believe we can save him. I am sorry.” Then he would hastily walk out the door before the parents could ask questions. But, my friend said, “Then I would see him in the hall, leaning against a window, weeping, shaking with sobs because of a child he could not save.”

May we always “speak the truth in love.”