In this confusing world where the depth of our love seems to be determined by our agreement and approval, we Christians can find ourselves a bit out of step. Love is not approval. True love tells the truth. But how exactly do we balance love with truth? Particularly the extremely unpopular truth of God’s Word?
We all recognize the two extremes, don’t we? Those that focus only on truth are often considered harsh and unloving. They are prone to arrogance and a lack of consideration for the needs and feelings of others. On the other side, those that focus only on love are so worried about the feelings and felt needs of others that they end up not really actually loving them because they aren’t willing to tell them the truth.
Ahh. That fine balance that we Christians need to find in a world that defines these things all wrong.
This is no easy task.
On Saturday, I was invited to speak to a lovely group of women in the southern NJ area. They asked me to speak on this balance and, while I can’t share everything I shared with them in this one post, I did want to share just a bit of it.
I believe we all struggle with keeping this balance between truth and love. I know I certainly do. As fallen sinners, we all tend to lean in one direction or the other. It takes constant attention and earnest intention to keep from tipping over to one side or the other.
Hopefully, these four things will help us all to keep that delicate balance–
1. REMEMBER—We must always remember that we are sinners and imperfect vessels that God has chosen to use to spread His truth. We don’t have all the answers. Let’s be more concerned about the truth of God’s Word than we are about our own opinions and our passion to be right. We must be humble. (Proverbs 11:2; Colossians 3:12; James 4:6)
2. ACCEPT—Accept that others are not always going to see the truth. We must concede that it is God who softens the hard heart. It is God who makes the blind to see. Changing others is utterly and absolutely outside of our control. (Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 15:5; Romans 8:29)
3. LISTEN—Learn to be a good listener. Ask questions. What makes someone tick? In what ways is their past affecting their present? Why are they hung up on certain things? This turns the person we are talking with into a real live person with feelings and thoughts and a history, rather than being just an annoyance or even our enemy. I would add that it is also amazing just how much you can learn about someone by listening, which gives us so much wisdom and insight as we seek to share truth with them. (Proverbs 18:13; James 1:19)
4. SPEAK—When we are given the opportunity to speak up, we must do so with love and grace. People are not going to simply absorb the Bible and truth because you are a nice person. (Ephesians 4:15 and 25; I John 3:18)
Let’s talk a bit more about speaking up. I think this is where so many of us get hung up. We probably do not realize that we have bought into the lie that love remains silent and speaking up is unloving. However, this is not a biblical truth and we see no biblical precedence for this anywhere in scripture (Matthew 28:19-20; Ephesians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 2:14-17; Colossians 4:6; I Peter 3:13-17).
It is also not a logical truth by the world’s standards, which we can see from the following examples–
There is a blind girl crossing the street in the path of an oncoming car. Which is the more loving thing to do? Ignore her as she walks towards life-threatening danger or shout at her and push her out of the way?
I am driving by your house at night and I see that it is on fire. Which is the more loving thing to do? Keep driving along and ignore what I saw or stop and start shouting FIRE! as I run into your house, rudely awakening you?
I am a doctor and you have come to see me about severe headaches. After running some tests I find out that you have a very serious disease. Am I more loving to simply not tell you this? Or is it more loving to share this most unpleasant truth? You will not like what you hear, so if we are going to remain consistent with the world’s definition of love, the most loving thing this doctor could do is remain silent. And, yet, we know this isn’t really love.
Can you see the parallels here? Just because someone doesn’t want to hear bad news (you are going to get run over or your house is on fire or you have a terrible disease) doesn’t mean we don’t tell them that bad news. In fact, I think we can all acknowledge that just a basic love for our fellow man compels us to most certainly tell them.
And yet, somehow, we have fooled ourselves to believe that this doesn’t carry over into the spiritual world. The lost are headed to eternal hell and Christians are being rendered ineffective because of false teaching and false doctrine in unprecedented numbers. And we aren’t willing to do the most loving thing of all–speak up and tell them the truth from God’s Word.
Finding the balance is so difficult in all areas of life, but perhaps in no area more than the spiritual. For by finding true balance, we face the opposition of the whole world and most of the church. We will experience the hatred and animosity of the whole world and, more painfully, much of the church. But our guide must be the Bible. And from there we know that we must be carefully balanced between both truth and love.
The purest kind of truth embraces love because love is a part of that truth. ~John MacArthur