Fifteen to twenty years ago, media ecologists were noticing how the increase in dialogue on the telephone meant that certain nonverbal aspects of communication were omitted. This trend has accelerated in our day, leaving us with essentially two broad mediums of communication: virtual (through a keyboard) and direct (through audible speech, body language, etc.)….
The duality has given rise to divergent communication patterns, with perhaps one of the clearest pertaining to tone. People can be apt to offend and be mean-spirited when behind a keyboard, but they are often concerned not to offend in face-to-face interactions. Either way, the truth is often obscured in favor of something else—hammering away on one’s viewpoint on the one hand or taking too much care not to offend on the other. Today, as in ancient Israel, “truth is lacking” (Isa. 59:15); indeed, “truth has perished” (Jer. 7:28).
In this context, the honesty of the biblical authors is refreshing. Paul is perhaps most notable in this regard. Although he was accused of duplicity (2 Cor. 1:12–24), he walked with integrity and spoke the truth in love whether by pen or by voice (1 Cor. 4:4, 18–21). How many people do we know who are like Paul in this regard, who are willing to be honest with us when it is truly for our benefit even if such honesty may hurt our feelings? It’s rare because it’s not easy. It takes genuine love and concern to overcome the awkwardness of telling someone the truth.