But unless we occasionally get specific with each other about how that looks in a concrete situation, we risk forever talking in abstractions and never exhorting one another helpfully. In the interest of being concrete, I would like to share one woman's experience of being "led by the Spirit" on an ordinary day.
One afternoon the woman's husband is acting toward her in a way that is hurtful and immature, and the woman is experiencing all the normal temptations to retaliate that flesh is heir to.
Because it is the truth, the woman would not be incorrect to say to her husband, "You are being immature." But being his wife, she happens to know him well enough that she knows that would be the most hurtful possible thing she could say, because those particular words would cut close to the bone of his manhood. There is a tug-of-war of the flesh and the Spirit going on insider her. This is the challenge of the Christian life at the cellular level:
"For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh" (Galatians 5:17).
To not walk according to the Spirit right now-to not be "led by the Spirit," to "grieve the Spirit"-would be to simply take the easy path of desire and say, "Darling, you are being immature." She could justify herself to herself by saying that she is speaking the truth.
But if the woman is committed to walking in the Spirit, the Spirit will show her a better way. If she is willing to die to desire-even the desire to say something that is utterly true-the Holy Spirit will take her through a wonderful process. It is only people of courage who ever go through this process. It is the "rabbit hole" (to borrow a phrase from The Matrix) of digging deeper into her heart and into the Word until she can find a way to answer her husband that will be for his good and for the highest glory of God.
This is what God means by "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). It is a way of speaking that meets the duel criterion of truth and love: it is not only true, but it is loving. It is not only loving, but it is true.
It feels like dying, but it is the way we become more like Jesus, which is the whole idea (Romans 8:29).