In the Persian Gulf War of 1991, seventeen percent of US servicemen and women killed were killed by what is known as ‘friendly fire’.1 Friendly fire is when someone is shot or bombed by their own side. That figure in itself is staggering. In part it is a problem of the modern war machine, where weapons are more effective in killing larger numbers of people. But it is also simply a breakdown in communication.

In this article I want to consider an area of damage in the body of Christ. An area where many brothers and sisters have fallen victim to friendly fire. This area is speaking the truth.

Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer 112 speaks about God’s will for us in the ninth commandment. And as part of its answer we read: “I should love the truth, speak it candidly, and openly acknowledge it.

Speaking the truth candidly:in our Reformed circles we are pretty good at it. Sometimes too good. “I just tell it like it is!”, “It doesn’t matter how I say it, as long as it is the truth.”, “They know I love them, why else would I come and tell them off?”

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” These words have been spoken many times, maybe you’ve said them. But do you believe them? I don’t. I’ve never had sticks and stones break my bones. The closest I have gotten is some cracked ribs from an unscheduled meeting with a mountain bike pedal. They hurt badly enough. But eventually, they healed. However, years down the track, I can still remember words that hurt when I heard them, and still smart a little when I recall them, even after reconciliation.

The Heidelberg Catechism is right and faithful to Scripture when it calls us to love the truth, speak it candidly, and openly acknowledge it. But how do we do this? In part