There’s a subtle difference between “in christian love” and “bless her heart.” When you say bless her heart, you’re gossiping about someone behind their back but soften it a little with this phrase. In christian love is what you say when you want to tell someone they’re horrible but you want it to feel like encouragement. Here’s how it works:
“Jon, can I talk to you? I hope you can hear this in christian love, because that is how I intend it, from one friend to another, but I have to tell you, you suck. I felt convicted to tell you this so that you can grow in your not sucking.”
It’s a pretty versatile phrase though. This is what an 80-year old lady said to my friend who is single the other day:
“Sweetie, you need to get out and date. Do you think God wants you to be celibate for the rest of your life? I’m only asking in Christian love.”
I love it, it’s like this get out of jail free card we use every now and then to do what we want but still maintain a bit of Christian veneer.