One of my favorite movie scenes of all time is from, “A Few Good Men” with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. Lt. Kaffee (Cruise) is questioning Col. Jessep (Nicholson) in court trying to get him to admit ordering a “Code Red”. After a long and increasingly heated Q and A, Lt Kaffee demands the truth from Col. Jessep to which he famously and angrily responds, “You can’t handle the truth!” I get “goose bumps” every time!
Can you handle the truth? About yourself? What if it’s hard to hear? What if it’s sandwiched between lies and exaggerations? Do you want to know?
Most people struggle with hearing the truth related to our faults, especially when it comes from an angry spouse, in the midst of an argument, and with a sprinkle of exaggeration!
Since we’ve all been on both sides of this relational equation, we need to know how to approach both situations in a God honoring way. We need to know how to speak and receive the truth in love. Let’s discuss how to receive the truth today and we’ll talk about speaking the truth in my next post.
When couples are trying to talk through a conflict or confronting each other on a particular issue, I’ve learned that 2 things are almost always present: truth and error. Very rarely do I hear complete truth or complete error.
Sometimes the error comes out in the form of a simple exaggeration. But other times, the error, or lie, is almost a complete false accusation. Regardless of what the percentage of truth vs. error is, when we’re confronted with it we need to know how to receive the truth in love.
When we’re confronted with some truth and some error our tendency will be to try and clear up the error part first. Then, 9 times out of 10, clearing up the error will become the subject of your next argument. After 15 minutes of trying to clear up “error” after “error”, no truth is discussed and you’ve forgotten what the original argument was about! No resolution is ever reached and a wedge of unresolved conflict makes it that much more difficult to talk through the next issue.
Receiving the truth in love looks like pursuing the truth first. This means pursing the truth first even if 99% of what of what your spouse is confronting you with is false. Think about it this way: What percent will God hold you accountable for the 99% that is false? Hint – its 0%. And, what percent will God hold you accountable for the 1% that is true? You guessed it – 100%. God will hold you 0% responsible for the 99% that is error, but 100% responsible for the 1% that is true.
Receiving the truth in love looks like hearing, understanding, accepting, and confessing the truth that was spoken…even if it’s only 1%.
You could sum this up as the 1% rule.
We should want to know some of the difficult truth about ourselves because God wants us to know. It’s part of His redemptive plan for us. He wants us to be increasingly aware of areas we aren’t like him. Put another way, he wants us to be increasingly aware of our sin. Not in a condemning way, but rather in an opportunistic type of way.
God wants us to be increasingly aware of our sin for 3 reasons:
- So we can confess intelligently and specifically to God and other people our sin has affected
- So we are aware of areas we need to grow to become more like Christ
- So God’s gift of forgiveness is made that much more attractive
So…the next time you are in an argument with your spouse make sure your ears and heart are looking for any hard truth they (and God) might be trying to reveal to you…even if its sandwiched between some error.
Then, understand the truth, accept it, and confess it before God and your spouse.
As you do this your conflicts turn into opportunities for intimacy…with your spouse and with God.
Discuss with your spouse
- How willing are you to receiving the truth in love from each other?
- Is there a hard truth that you have been unwilling to receive?