“Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?” I remember hearing the question when I was baptized, and I remember responding affirmatively. Since then, I’ve tried to live faithfully to those words, as the Holy Spirit has given me sight to see. It’s usually not difficult to spot evil, it is often obvious and seemingly everywhere in our broken world, and connection with the UMC provides many opportunities to resist it, both locally and globally.
But recently I have come to realize that there is a species of evil that I often do not see, because I do not want to see it. I do not see it because it masquerades as something good, and I do not want to see it because dealing with it is difficult and uncomfortable. This evil dwells within me, and it takes two forms.
Sometimes, it lures me to damage a relationship because I become too focused on being right to see that even if I win the debate, I will lose the heart I was trying to reach. I have learned that all the truth in the world does little good if someone will not listen to it, and before they will listen to my words, they must feel my compassion and empathy. After I have won a hearing by valuing a relationship over being right, I must choose my words most carefully to make sure the truth I wish to speak is delivered with love.
Other times, it lures me to soft-pedal the truth because I don’t want to hurt the person I’m speaking to, or because it’s uncomfortable to deal with difficult issues. I have learned that while not every true thing needs to be said, everything I say must be true. Loving a neighbor requires that we speak the full truth to them, in love, even when it’s not what they want to hear. Otherwise, we aren’t really loving them.
Lord, give me gentleness and compassion to show people Your love before trying to speak Your truth, and give me boldness to speak Your truth fully.
About Perry Bailey
Perry Bailey is our third Lay Leader (2025) and is currently the chair of our Youth Council and the Pack Sunday School teacher. Recently, he has served on the Adult Discipleship Team and is an active member of the Men's ministry.