Two concepts that couldn’t be more abused in our society are “love” and “truth”. Today, the vast majority think that love is mainly focused on romance, while truth is whatever an individual deems it to be. Of course, both of these ideas are way out of step with God’s Word.
Can you imagine this scenario: Bill goes to visit his friend Jeff. When Bill arrives at Jeff’s house, he walks in the front door and is shocked to find Jeff sitting on the couch with a gun in his hand. Bill asks Jeff what he’s up to and Jeff replies that he is going to commit suicide. Bill looks at his friend for a moment and then says, “Well, Jeff, I can see you’re busy. See you later.” Bill then walks back out the door and heads home.
No way, right? No one with a conscience would leave a friend in such a situation. All of us, even the most cold hearted, would try to help a friend in such a circumstance. Yet, don’t we often do the exact same thing spiritually when we know someone who has put their faith in the doctrines of men rather than the Word of God? Aren’t we doing the same thing when we know someone who is caught up in sin yet we stay silent?
Many in our culture today would argue that to love someone is to accept them no matter what. After all, if a friend believes that sinful behavior is okay for them, what right do we have to tell them differently? To try and show them our “version” of truth is really just being intolerant. It isn’t an act of love, but instead, it’s being hateful. As crazy as that sounds, we see such a sentiment expressed daily in our politically correct world that accepts any and all behavior and condemns nearly all expressions of God’s truth. As a result, Christians often cower silently rather than speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We fear being labeled legalistic hatemongers, so we just sit back silently while people all around us commit spiritual suicide.
In Acts 18 we read the story of a married couple named Aquila and Priscilla who weren’t afraid of what others thought, nor were they ashamed of the gospel. When they encountered a brilliant and gifted preacher named Apollos, they listened closely to what he had to say and they noticed an amazing thing: While Apollos was competent in the Scriptures and had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and while he preached with great fervor, he didn’t know the plan of salvation. Aquila and Priscilla had a choice: They could sit silently, be tolerant and get along or they could try and correct the error of Apollos’ preaching. They chose to risk being labeled intolerant, unloving and full of hate and they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:26, ESV).
What is the real definition of love? Would it have been to allow Apollos to keep preaching partial truth, thinking that he was in a right relationship with God and to allow Apollos to keep leading others to believe a partial truth and thinking they also were in a right relationship with God? Or is true love taking the time, with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15), to teach someone the real truth of God’s salvation that they may know that by obeying the truth they have eternal life (1 John 5:13)?
Paul told the Galatian Christians of the error of their way when they were willingly throwing salvation away to follow the doctrines of men. The great apostle then asked them, “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). Paul’s love for the Galatians would not allow him to sit by silently while they gave away eternal life. Are we willing to do the same thing?
Sunday, we will examine two completely different passages of Scripture that connect the same thought: God has fixed a day when all will be judged eternally and on that day, ignorance will be no excuse. Therefore, while we have opportunity, Christians must be willing to speak the truth, in love, to those who aren’t ready for that day. What could be more loving than that?