Truth and Love
While immersing myself in several upcoming blog topics, it became clear that truth and love will frequently appear in my writings about abortion. Therefore, I couldn’t continue working on future topics without first writing about the foundational concepts of truth and love.
To simplify these concepts in my mind, it helps me to think of them this way: love is the method I am supposed to use when I share truth. The two simply go hand in hand. (Love is not only a method, of course, and certainly can’t be defined by one word or phrase – this is simply how I help myself to understand the pairing of truth with love.)
As a Christian, I am called to walk in both. Yet I haven’t met a single Christian (including me) who completely and totally has this truth and love thing figured out. We’re often heavy on one or the other. And to be honest, I believe that different circumstances may call for a heavier dose of one or the other. But there always has to be both.
Because our efforts fall short (Jesus is the only perfect example of both truth and love), we need the help of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). Not surprisingly, the first fruit of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians is love (Galatians 5:22).
We can’t truly love someone without telling the truth, and truth won’t be heard unless it’s shared in love. It’s not easy. I believe that while we’re on this earth, we’re all in a process of learning, and so we likely can all do better. Lord Jesus, please help your people to walk in truth and love!
Before I was born again in Jesus, I would angrily shout the truth at my husband. When you’re hurting, it’s easy to forget about love. I could shred him to bits with the truth, and I’m not proud of that. That horrible habit created a lot of wounds in him and in our marriage. But thankfully, Jesus heals and restores and teaches. I’ve learned better ways, and I’ve learned to be heavier on love.
Conversely, if someone is fearful, that person may not tell the truth. I think sometimes as Christians, we’re afraid people will think we’re mean or hateful if we speak the truth (as we’re so often accused of), so we err on the side of heavy doses of love without uttering any truth. Or, Christians who are heavy on love may fall into flattery instead, brushing over sin instead of speaking truth about sin. I’ve seen both of these scenarios play out. Scripture frequently admonishes us about fear; and scripture doesn’t have anything good to say about flattery but constantly tells us to speak the truth. Proverbs 27:6 explains that the wounds of a friend are faithful while the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. So in actuality, if we’re unwilling to tell someone the truth then we’re not being loving; instead, we are the enemy -- the enemy of the very person we are trying so hard to love! That’s something to think about for sure.
God is both truth and love. This is abundantly clear in scripture. If we’re his hands and feet, we must be willing to be both. But context matters: where/when/how/why we speak truth determines whether we’re speaking truth in love. If we’re speaking a truth to someone because we don’t like them or want to see them hurt or embarrassed or shamed, or simply to win an argument, then that obviously is not love.
Love is something I’ve had to learn, and I’m still learning. It’s easier for me to tell the truth than it is to be loving so I always have to guard my words and my heart and consider my tone and my motives and pray-pray-pray! Being a parent has helped me to learn more about how to love. I’m naturally much more loving with my kids than with anyone else. I am gentler and kinder when sharing a hard truth with them.
I think that’s a good analogy for our Father God. We are His children. He loves us so much. He lavishes His love upon us, but He also always tells us the truth. He’s gentle about it, but He is always honest (Numbers 23:19). On the other hand, our enemy is the father of lies. If you read John 8:44, you’ll see that Satan was not only a liar, but a murderer from the beginning. (Interesting scripture when we’re considering abortion, isn’t it?)
Truth can be hard to hear. If we don’t like what someone is saying to us, perhaps it’s because their words are opening a wound. Consequently, truth tellers are often accused of being hateful or mean even if they are doing their very best to speak truth in love. When I consider this, I can’t help but think about how God speaks truth to me. I’m never offended or angry when truth comes directly from the Lord. And yes, the truth hurts. He shines a light of truth on my sin and though it’s painful, it doesn’t hurt quite as much when He does it as it does when somebody else gives me a dose of truth. Why? Probably because He is pure love, and we humans aren’t, at least not on our own. We need help. We need Jesus.
Father God, make us into your loving image. Fill us with your Holy Spirit. Help us to be loving truth speakers. We need your wisdom so desperately, Heavenly Father. Help us to expose the truth about abortion while simultaneously and sincerely loving everyone in the midst who hears.
In Christ’s Love,
Writer of Light – #4