Engagement is wonderful.

A spectacular season of relationship between a man and a woman, engagement affords a couple the constant reminder to be intentional in their preparation for the marriage to come. My fiancé and I have been engaged now for over a month, and we are enjoying new opportunities to converse about our future life together, from our desires and our hopes, to who will handle the car repairs and finances. One of the neatest, most encouraging aspects of engagement is the chance to deepen our love by being totally and completely up-front with one another about...well...everything.

Our ability to approach the other person honestly, with love and grace, about any given situation will determine the depth of trust, or lack thereof, in our relationship. Beyond the vital development of trust, honesty provides two imperfect people, whether friends or fiancés, with a very unique opportunity: to see the gospel at work, as they reflect God's abundant grace to one another and to a watching world.

Read Paul's words to the Colossians in chapter three:

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as The Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony..." (v.12-14).

Honesty in our relationships--whether familial, or friend-to-friend, or in dating or marriage--is absolutely vital to maintaining a unity that is founded in Christ and developed through trust. Honesty, when desiring the best for the other and for the relationship, is a manifestation of love, which Paul says binds all things together in perfect harmony. We find the ultimate example of love and harmony in the Trinitarian relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit; we revel in the reconciliation of the Christian to the Father in Jesus; and we heed the call to be united within the Body of Christ, and therefore, to one another.

Honesty in our relationships provides opportunity for a number of gospel truths to be revealed:

1. Honesty is opportunity to put on the humble submission of Christ.

It seems a rare thing to find a person who loves confrontation. Let's face it--confrontation in any form is uncomfortable because it involves a measure of vulnerability. In essence, when we confront someone we love with the truth, we are calling them out, exposing their sin (or bad habit), and then holding our breaths for their response, which is completely out of our control. Comfortable? I think not.

But consider why we are able and instructed to confront in love: Christ, Himself, was our humble Savior, who endured the cross for our sake. He did not look ahead to Calvary and say, "That looks uncomfortable, so I think I'll pretend it's not happening and avoid it." Christ humbly and obediently submitted to the Father, putting Himself directly in line with God's will, and faced the discomfort (more like the agony) of the cross for the greater outcome: our salvation. Christ had our unity with the Father in mind when He died for us and rose again to life eternal.

For us, this means that we can pray for strength to be like Christ, setting aside our self-centered desire for comfort so that unity, love and trust can be fostered in our relationships. This means we can step out in vulnerability without fear because we ultimately trust in Christ. This means that we get to practice our identity in Christ, as we humbly submit to the Father’s calling for "humility, meekness, and patience". What an opportunity to grow in Christ-likeness!

2. Honesty is opportunity to bear witness to the grace of God.