Truth or Love?
There is a prevailing idea in the religious world that one must choose between truth and love—that to be a Christian you must stand by and teach one only. To some, the command is all that matters, which leads to hollow, monotonous worship (Mt. 23); to others, the heart is all that counts, which leads to nothing more than lawlessness (Mt. 7:21-23). There is no better way to err, and yet, many who profess to be Christians say, “There is no middle ground.” This could not be further from the truth.
Jesus said in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Love is nothing more than a command—those who elevate love to elimination of all other teaching fail to see that you cannot throw out “law.” In doing so, you also throw out love, which, as a command, is just a piece of the New Law we have through Jesus Christ. However, love is nothing less than a command—those who belittle it have belittled a commandment that came from the mouth of Jesus, denying part of the truth.
Love and truth are inseparable. You cannot choose one or the other. Jesus is the truth (Jn. 14:6). God is love (1 Jn. 4:16). 1 Peter 1:22 commands, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.” Love and obedience go hand in hand. Ephesians 4:15 tells us that God intends for Christian leaders (v. 11) to set an example by “speaking the truth in love,” and, that this practice will aid in not only combating “every wind of (false) doctrine (v. 14),” but in the growth of the church in Christ (v.16).
If we take truth out of the equation, we do nothing more than give a “high five” to the lost as they walk the broad way into destruction. Choosing not to confront a sinning brother (“In a spirit of meekness”) does not exhibit love—and, for that matter, choosing to warn a brother of his sin is not judgmental. The church at Corinth, who prided itself on its unconditional acceptance for sinning brethren, was told in 1 Corinthians 5:6, “Your glorying is not good.” If one comes up with his own interpretation of God’s will, apart from God’s Word (2 Pet. 1:20), he not only has no personal relationship with God—he “does not have God (2 Jn. 9).” It is apparent that truth is a “salvation issue.”
If we take out love from the equation, however, we become nothing more than noise (1 Cor. 13:1). If I attempt to diminish the value of love, all my efforts in living the Christian life are null and void (1 Cor. 13:2-3). Love is important—so important my salvation depends on it as well (1 Jn. 3:14; 1 Jn.4:20). If I am without love, I put myself at risk of being nothing more than a know-it-all (1 Cor. 8:1-2), and might never appreciate the love Christ displayed leading up to, and while on, the cross.
You cannot eliminate truth or love from the Christian walk. In doing so, one wrongfully “handles the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).” While others choose one or the other, to compensate for the other extreme, let us “fix our eyes on Jesus” and choose both love and truth.