As Christians we are encouraged, to speak truth in love… but what does that mean?
My baseline to start this discussion lies in Matthew 22. As the Pharisees were testing Jesus and trying to trip him up so to speak, they asked [vs 36]”Teacher, which is the greatest command of the law?” Jesus said to them [vs 37-40], ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
So let’s see, baseline, – #1… LOVE GOD and #2… LOVE OTHERS. Seems simple enough. I wish I understood why in the name of Jesus (not in the slang way, but in the literal way of using Jesus as the reason) do people feel free to hate? Or condemn? Or judge? Or rationalize what can be called nothing other than ‘bullying’? I just don’t know, but it makes me incredibly sad. 😦 And I can’t claim to explain something I have no idea about.
God is a God of love, not of hate. Now, don’t misunderstand me – I am not saying God loves sin and accepts any form of unrighteousness. God is holy as the highest attribute of His personality. I am saying God loves His children, the ones sinning openly and secretly. The ones blatantly walking bold face away from Him and the ones on their faces in reverence to Him. He died for all our sins… ALL OUR SINS! While we were yet sinners! [Romans 5:8]
He died for me, in love. He died for you, in love. He died for the adulterer, the thief, the addict, the fornicator, the slanderer, the transgender and the homosexual. For the person whose sin is worn all over the outside of them and the ones silently hiding them deep in their souls. For everyone that looks like you and the ones that resemble nothing of familiarity. Jesus died on the cross for all of them. And for anyone who hasn’t accepted the redeeming grace of salvation, my heart breaks wide open that first I know they will spend eternity separated from God, but also that someone inside the fold might be turning them from Jesus with their harsh (however well intended) delivering of the gospel. Someone so firm on the topic of sin, they forget the child of God who is the sinner. Someone who is so removed perhaps they forgot they were a sinner too.
You see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control were given to us through a relationship with Jesus.[Galatians 5:22-23] This humbleness of the spirit in the face of our salvation, not pride, comes through a genuine experience with the Lord.
As for addressing the truth of Jesus [in love] with a lost or wayward world, let’s look at what Jesus did with the adulterous woman in the book of John. When presented with the adulterous woman by the Pharisees, Jesus told the crowd “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” [John 8:7] Jesus addressed first the religious – the churched – the “Christians” (today). He was telling me and you, whomever of us is without sin or issue or hangup or problem, let us throw the first stone. (Newsflash – I ain’t picking up any stone!)
I may not have outward blatant “political hot-button” types of sin, but I am surely nowhere near being without sin. Maybe I don’t wear my sins out in the open. Maybe I don’t have the “hurl stone” types of sin as the adulterous woman caught in the act – the kind that gets condemning looks or heated debates. Yet, I sin and I hope to always be the one to stand up first and tell you I am a sinner. My heart is daily being molded and shaped in hopes of growing a tiny bit closer to God. Picking up that stone to cast requires I take a long and honest look inside of me before I decide to step in someone else’s sin.
Jesus left the adulterous woman in kindness, she was led by the tender grace of Jesus. He did not condemn her. He said, “go and sin no more”. [John 8:11] He loved her, lead her, guided her and directed her. In grace and mercy. Oh – the freedom!!
So, do we just love everyone and smile and ignore sin? No. I would that is not really love, but merely being polite. But first, before you can ever go forward in loving for the sake of truth, are you willing to truly love in a face down abandoned love for Jesus kind of love?
Love that allows the truth to be spoken, happens over time. It’s getting to know people, and welcoming them wherever they are. Love has coffee and lunch and brings someone into your home for dinner. Love shared stories of my life and listens intently to the stories of yours. Love talks. Love listens. Love is silently just being there. Love holds hands when a heart is broken and makes a meal when someone is sick. Love cheers together at little league games and sweats together at the gym. Love steps so far outside the boundaries of church and bible study and retreats and gets into life. Together. Love bypasses fear and conditions and expectations.
Then, where does the truth come in? For me, by the means of sharing my life, my time and my heart, I share my Jesus. It is not always a 5 step tract or a carefully scripted presentation of the gospel or Romans Road discussion. (Those are so important and if you don’t know how to share your faith, I strongly encourage you to get prepared for when God calls you to that command.) My prayer remains, may my life share my Jesus, may someone’s burden be easier and may they come to know Jesus through knowing what Jesus has miraculously done for me. Through a softened heart, they will hear the call of Jesus to convict their sin. Their convictions are not mine to give.
You see The Truth comes smack dab in the middle of The Love.
In His grip. Ashlee
Pray with me: Dear heavenly Father-God, Thank you for loving us first so that we may have the capacity to love. Thank you for giving your son, Jesus, even while we were still sinners. Give us humility of spirit to show love in all situations. Give us wisdom and discernment to speak truth in words when applicable and always to show truth in our deeds fleshing out your incomprehensible love. Teach us that we don’t have to condemn when we don’t condone. Put people in our path and make us salt and light in the world for you and may we strive to continually love because we were first loved by you. We ask in Jesus name, Amen.