There are two important facets to that instruction:
“The truth” and “love.”
What are you saying, and why are you saying it?
We can try to show love while obscuring the truth—and we can speak the truth while being out for blood.
Neither one is enough on its own. The two are inextricably bound. Love “rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6), and the purpose of God-given truth “is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). Remove one side of the equation and you unbalance the other.
It’s happening all around us. There are people who will throw established and irrefutable truths out the window in favor of their own definition of love—and there are people who will take truth like a weapon and bludgeon others with it mercilessly, using it to tear down and mock their opponents.
What about us? Do you and I tend to drift toward one of those extremes?
I think it’s easy to do. I know I do it. When I see truth “fallen in the street” (Isaiah 59:14), it makes my blood boil. It’s hard not to let that anger be my motivation in responding. It can be just as hard to speak the truth when I know it might hurt someone I care about. And yet…
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Love is a lot of things. It’s patient and kind. It doesn’t weaponize the truth, but it doesn’t hide from it either. It rejoices in it, embraces it, and refuses to rejoice in iniquity. It doesn’t even think evil. You can’t define iniquity without truth. And you can’t live the truth without love.
Does that balance exist inside us?
I’ve seen so many posts on Facebook lately that start with, “Not sure if this is true, but…”
Then why are you sharing it?
I’ve seen other posts that start with some version of, “Maybe now you idiots will finally understand.”
Is that what love looks like?
We have to have both. Love and truth. Love knows the dividing line between firm and cruel. Truth knows the dividing line between helpful and harmful. Together, they build the fence that shows us the quadrant God expects us to live in. When we try to operate on only one of those axes and ignore the other, we plunge ourselves into all kinds of trouble.
Paul wrote a beautiful passage about the reason the Church and its appointed officials exist:
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Truth and love, side by side, are what enable us to stand firm against winds of doctrine and deceitful plotting while growing to be more and more like our older Brother.
I don’t much care for the alternative.
Until next time,