Changing or suppressing truth out of desire not to wound or offend is not love, but indulgence. Truth spoken in love is always more gentle and kind than compromise and is also always more beneficial and instructive than truth that lacks any sort of warmth, compassion or care.
Broadly speaking, there are two major groups of errors in the American church today: the Compromise Camp and the Pharisee Camp. In the Compromise Camp, we find those who, in the interest of not offending or challenging the culture, water down the truth of the Bible, bend/change – or even outright deny it. They value love above all things, and correctly point out that God is love. What is missing, however, is that God is also Holy and Jesus identifies Himself as “THE Truth.” Love without truth may seem sweet, warm and inviting….but like a hamburger made out of doughnuts, is ultimately unhealthy and lacking in nutrition. You can’t live off of love that is not intermixed with truth. You might think that you are called to balance the church’s historic “harshness” in a sort of affirmative action/balancing way….but you do not have this call or duty. NOBODY does. The world does not need love that lacks truth – love without truth might be temporarily comforting, but it is not capable of rescue/salvation. Love accompanied by inaccurate truth or compromise is even more dangerous. Merely love is NOT the Jesus way. Jesus was crucified NOT because of His overwhelming kindness, but because of His uncompromising truth (spoken in love…)
In the Pharisee Camp, we find church members who are frighteningly quick to point out the error in others and correct them with truth. You find people writing extensively about this or that false teaching; this or that false teacher; and this or that false doctrine. Individually, Pharisee Campers have a tendency to skillfully be able to diagnose the splinter in somebody else’s eye, while missing the log in their own eye. They are absolutely correct in their knowledge that the church is the “Pillar of truth,” and that we are called to “expose the darkness,” and admonish and rebuke when necessary (see 1 Tim. 3:15, Eph. 5:11 and Col 3:16). The issue is that these directives must be absolutely slathered in LOVE. Not in a compromising, permissive way…but in a kind, gentle and humble way (See 2 Timothy 2:25 and 1 Thess. 2:7)!
Truth delivered without mercy and love is harshness, and only beneficial to the degree that a drill sergeant’s barking is beneficial. Yes, it gives helpful information, but it builds significant resentment over time and ultimately alienates the listener, much like the church has done with homosexuals and others that sinned in a way that was not fashionable at the time (ignoring the fact that we are all sinners called to repentance by the glorious gospel of Jesus). You might think that you are God’s drill sergeant and that your tone or method of delivery doesn’t matter as long as you are spouting truth. Unfortunately, there is no such position in the Body of Christ. We are all called and REQUIRED to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15)! Truth unaccompanied by love is NOT the Jesus way.
Love without truth is indulgent compromise, truth without love is merely the cold delivery of information. One without the other is not the Jesus way; one without the other cannot rightly be called “Christianity.”
Ephesians 4:15 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.
Chase A. Thompson