When driving along a road in the country, one may come up to a bridge which has a sign in front of it with a picture of a truck – the sign indicating how many “tons” of vehicle and cargo the bridge is strong enough to hold. One must also look across to the other side to see if another truck is coming toward the bridge at the same time.
This little parable reminds me of how Shaul (Paul) said that we are to communicate to one another among believers in the body of Messiah.
Speaking the truth in love…
This is a mixture of compassion and confrontation. Love means RELATIONAL TRUST. Truth is the CONTENT of what we have to say. Relational trust is like a bridge; content is like cargo on a truck. We can only drive a loaded truck over a bridge that has enough strength to hold it. When we dialogue with a brother in the Lord, we need to have discernment about how much content the relationship can hold; how much confrontation the trust can hold.
I remember the first time Don Finto sat in on a discussion between Dan Juster, Eitan Shishkoff, and myself. The level of confrontation was so high, he thought that some disaster had taken place. He wanted to excuse himself from the room. But then he began to realize something else. There was no breach of relationship at all. Our level of trust for one another was so high that we didn’t even realize that it sounded so confrontative. What he at first thought was a symptom of a deep problem was actually evidence of a level of relationship so deep that total honesty was a normal experience. The level of confrontation was natural, intimate, and appropriate for the level of covenant between us.
When there is not a bridge of trust strong enough to carry the weight of the content needed to be discussed, we have to exercise some patience. We must talk less and listen more. We must hold back some content while we build more trust. (Unload your truck temporarily.) Your relationship with a brother in the Lord must be more important to you than the content of what you have to say to him. It is interesting that God created us with two ears and one mouth.
The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.
The cargo in someone’s truck can be of two kinds: OBJECTIVE or SUBJECTIVE. Of course, everyone thinks HIS content is objective and the other person’s is subjective. At the stage of building trust, it does not matter. If you come to a bridge with your “objective” cargo, and your friend comes to the bridge from the other side with his “subjective” cargo, you have to stop and let his truck pass first. After all, you can’t expect him to put some of your cargo in his truck if his truck is full!
We could misunderstand Yeshua’s seemingly brutal confrontations with His disciples, if we do not take into account the depth of relational trust between them (John 15:15), as well as His willingness to lay down His life for them (John 15:13).
This is the second aspect of love: WILLINGNESS TO SACRIFICE for the sake of others. Sometimes the person we are speaking to does not trust us. We can still speak in a confrontative manner to the degree that we are willing to sacrifice on behalf of that person. (Sometimes we “super spiritual” people fantasize that we are willing to sacrifice for someone else, but when a real difficulty arises, we are not willing to pay the price. That’s charismatic holy hypocrisy.)
A brother is born for adversity.
If we are willing to pay the price, if we are willing to go through the pain with a brother during his time of difficulty, then even if he has not had trust for us, our willingness to sacrifice builds the bridge toward him, even if only in one direction at the time.
This can be the case with prophetic words or evangelism. Shaul had some very strong things to say against the religious Jews, but at the same time he said he would have desired to be damned himself if it could save his countrymen (Romans 9:1). Yeshua called the religious leaders of Jerusalem “snakes,” but He also wept over them in love (Luke 19).
The art of building relational trust and the art of measuring the amount of confrontation that relationship can hold is what builds “bridges” of unity and cooperation in the body of Messiah. The willingness to sacrifice ourselves in love for those we are sharing with is what builds a spiritual “bridge” for our message to be heard.
Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.
He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.