walk in the word
The church today is often infected with an imbalance of biblical love. On one hand is radical fundamentalism, emphasizing legalistic truth and screaming, “This is what the Book says, boy!” On the other hand, we have liberal Christianity that says, “Bag the Bible; we have Jesus! We have His heart for the hurting, and we’re going out to make a difference in this world.”
A lot of times we feel caught in between these two choices: the call to stand for God’s unchanging truth, given in His Word; and the command to love, which Jesus said is how “all men will know that you are My disciples” (John 13:35). And so we get into this balancing act of love and truth, truth and love. Most of us fail on one side or the other.
Let me tell you something straight up: it’s not about balancing truth and love. We can’t walk that tightrope. We’re not supposed to be balancing truth and love as though they are separate things. In 1 Corinthians 13:6, Paul writes that love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” Notice, it’s not truth versus love; truth is part of the biblical definition of love. Without truth, any expression of love is crippled.
So how do we integrate truth and love in a way that is consistent with God’s Word? First, on the majors—action. There come times in every relationship when the issues are serious, and failure to take action will produce a big fallout. In those instances, love does not sit passively by. How do you know if a situation is major? Ask yourself the following questions:
Keep in mind that how you go about this is absolutely critical. Love is gracious, not rude. There is no place for an aggressive, boisterous, obnoxious, open-wide-while-I-jam-this-down-your-throat kind of approach. Love “does not act unbecomingly [and] does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13:5). That’s biblical love in action, and it’s powerful.
You might think that there are a lot of such confrontations in life. Not so. If you were to list a hundred things that could possibly require confronting your boss, spouse, or neighbor, perhaps three things could fit the “major” category. The other ninety-seven things are minors—personal preferences, personality differences, even sin issues that are not critical or chronic.
Here’s the principle for dealing with minor issues: on the minors—acceptance. It’s essential that followers of Christ be the most accepting, nonprejudiced, nonfaultfinding, noncritical people on the face of the earth. Often we’re not, but we should be. Love learns to accept the person with his or her “warts.” Love doesn’t deny the irritation; it simply recognizes that the one I love is far more important than my own desire to live an irritant-free life.
On the majors—action. On the minors—most things—acceptance. In all things, display love.
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