Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's Love Got To Do With It?

What is truth? That is what Pontius Pilate asked Jesus Christ, having no idea that Truth was standing right before him. So, here's another question: What is love? Definitions are important. Without knowing how one defines something, we may think that we're in agreement when actually, we couldn't be farther from it. For example, take Joel Osteen and his "loving" message of encouragment, and contrast that to Paul Washer, who offends people with his convicting preaching. Who is more loving? Be like the Bereans, search Scripture to see which of these two men is preaching the truth.

Is it ever loving to tell a lie?
Some might use the old analogy of your wife coming up and asking if this particular dress makes her look fat. Oh, that's a favorite one by atheists and so called Christians alike, as an attempt to justify a "little white lie", but let's really look into this shall we? You don't have to be brutal about it, saying something like, "It's not the dress that does it, Honey!" But neither do you have to lie.

You could say, "I don't like the way that looks on you, something else might be better." Now it's up to her if she wants to take your opinion or not.

But to tell her, "No, it looks great on you." when that is not the case, thinking that you're sparing her feelings is really only making matters worse. She now thinks that this dress looks good on her when it doesn't, and she goes out in public, while people are looking at her and laughing behind her back, ridiculing her and commenting, "Why would she wear something like that?" And it's your fault that she is publically humiliated because of your "little white lie" to spare her feelings. Who's going to spare them now that she was made to look foolish in public? And after she asked you the question in order to help determine what she was going to wear. The devil works in subtle ways, doesn't he?

What's even worse is to deceive someone into thinking that they're saved, not wanting to hurt their feelings, or anger them, or offend them, so you never confront them. And they fool themselves right up until they stand before the Lord and learn the truth (Matt 7:21-23) - can you call that loving? Real love would put others ahead of themselves, even allowing them to be angry, maybe to the point that they no longer want to be your friend! But you love them so much that you will take that loss if there is even a possibility that it will help them to be saved from eternal damnation. Lay down your pride!

So, what's the Biblical definition of love? That's the definition we really need to use, if we call ourselves Christians.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV1984) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Does it say that no one will ever get angry with you? No, they were so angry with Jesus that He was crucified. Does it say that love will not confront? No, nothing of the sort. Are we not to confront sin, or do we just leave it alone, lest someone accuse us of being judgmental?

Love must include truth, for if it does not, can it really be love, tainted by even the slightest lie? Who is the father of lies (John 8:44)? It doesn't matter if you label them differently, "little white lies", "stretching the truth", "tall tales" or whatever, they all come from the same place, don't they? Where does the Bible teach that any one type of lie is ok? Rather, it teaches that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire (Rev 21:8).

The Gospel is truth, so even if the Gospel is preached with contention, we should rejoice (Phil 1:18). God's Word will not return void (Is 55:11). So the question is not so much, "Am I loving enough?", it's more complete in asking, "Am I Biblical enough?"

If you find another believer that you feel is unloving, check what they are saying. If it is contradictory to Scripture, you've found a wolf among the flock. However, if it is doctrinally sound, and you cannot argue against it with Scripture, then maybe it's not unloving at all. Then you must face the possibility that it is a tough love that God is using in order to get your attention. Rather than unloving, it might just be the Lord convicting your conscience, and you are responding in anger and rebellion instead of repenting and acknowledging His truth from the sources that He chooses.

Soli Deo Gloria

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