Life Lesson # 6: Truth and love must go hand in hand in our lives
If anyone comes to you and does
not bring this teaching, do not
take them into your house or welcome
them. Anyone who welcomes them
shares in their wicked work.
2 John 10-11
Throughout the text in these five smallest books in the Bible I keep hearing the lessons about facing sin and specifically facing false teachers. It’s a topic that makes many of us uncomfortable. We’ve come to be a Christian world that has accepted the idea of “get alongism.” If we hear a fellow Christian professing wrong doctrine or openly sinning, we feel so uncomfortable questioning them. Unless, of course, we take to social media and all kid gloves fall off. Our inner Pharisee then rears its ugly turban sheltered behind an anonymous computer screen.
So, what’s the solution when a false teacher comes knocking or a Christian friend encourages us to sin alongside them? John tells the lady of the house to not take them into our homes because doing so spreads their words and ways. That seems a bit unkind doesn’t? I mean, Jesus sat with sinners, didn’t he? Ah, if only we were so strong as Jesus to withstand the wily ways of the devil.
Bad company corrupts good character.
1 Corinthians 15:33
Notice the use of the word, “welcome” in our verse in 2 John today. That implies a joyful and eager acceptance of someone. If I invited a person whom I knew to be a false teacher into my Bible study my group would surely think I endorsed what they were teaching. However, if I approached that same person separately, with God’s urging, and spoke the truth to them that’s a different story.
Instead, speaking the truth in love,
we will grow to become in every
respect the mature body of him who
is the head, that is, Christ.
Truth in love. Love with truth. They are like twins conjoined at all major organs. One without the other fails. There’s a great song by For King and Country that uses the teachings from 1 Corinthians 13.
If I give to a needy soul but don’t have love then who is poor? It seems all the poverty is found in me. For King & Country, Proof of Your Love
In other words, if I expose a sin in a friend, fellow Christian, pastor, etc, but do it without Jesus-type love then I am no better than the Bible’s Pharisees. And if there was one group of people that Jesus admonished the most it was the Pharisees.
When I think of a group of self-professed, non-loving “Christians” who fall into this category I picture the faces of the Westboro Baptist church. For those unfamiliar with this group, their targets are primarily homosexuals. On the face of their mission, they want to tell people of the dangers of this sin. They have been known to attend and protest at the funerals of gay young men who have been brutally murdered. They harass their families and friends. I would hope that we can all agree this method of “preaching” will not convert one single soul to Jesus. There may be some Biblical truth in their message. But their hate-filled voices are completely void of love. These are the folks we should not “welcome” into our homes, rather meet them outside the gates and share the message of truth surrounded with love. They are the “almost rights” which are therefore always wrong.
And what of love without truth?
“Ships are safer in harbors. But ships are made for the stormy seas.” Vance Havner
Meaning when we Christians fall into the false teaching of “Jesus wants us to just love everyone no matter what” or we slap the “coexist” sticker on our car, we water down our God-ordained separateness from the world. We become just another person on the street trying not to upset anyone. We join the club of “I’m ok you’re ok” and the sword of the spirit becomes as dull as a plastic knife. We allow, even welcome, the darkness to enter our homes because we are afraid to be seen as judgmental, rude or just plain weird.
“When we seek only to love but never proclaim a better way, we short-circuit God’s plan. As believers in Christ, we need to be known for both truth and love.” Matt Brown, Truth Plus Love — the Jesus Way to Influence
We are warned throughout the New Testament of false prophets and false teachers using all manner of evil to lead the faithful astray.
But there were also false prophets
among the people, just as there will
be false teachers among you. They
will secretly introduce destructive
heresies, even denying the sovereign
Lord who bought them—bringing swift
destruction on themselves. Many will
follow their depraved conduct and
will bring the way of truth into
disrepute. In their greed these
teachers will exploit you with
2 Peter 1-3
When we fear “rocking the boat” and don’t rely on the Lord to help us speak truth to these situations we have separated those conjoined twins – truth and love.
“To pursue union at the expense of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus.”Charles Spurgeon
There are few lessons I have taken as much to heart as this concept of conjoined truth and love. It guides my fervor to be tempered with compassion. It helps me to stand up for God when I fear recrimination. It has led me to draw Jesus-centered lines in the sand. And it has released me from guilt for positions I take because I know I have done so in love. This lesson has brought me to a good place in my relationship with my parents – something I had failed to do on my own.
Our faith is not intended to be a private matter. Yes, we work out our sanctification one-on-one with God. But our obedience in faith is what sets us apart from this world. And when we step out our doors we need to be armed with truth plus love and love plus truth.