BALANCING TRUTH AND LOVE
We live in a confusing time. TV and the Internet constantly bombard us with conflicting information. It becomes difficult to tell where the truth lies.
I cannot imagine what it is like for those outside the Church (the body of true believers) trying to understand what Christianity is about. We even have two political parties claiming to be more Christian than the other. So, can anyone know tell true believers from fakers?
John the Disciple (writer of the Gospel of John and other books) gives a good illustration of what a Christian should be like in his letter, First John. He notes there are two attributes of a Christian’s life which should be noticeable and be in proper balance. He refers to these as truth and love.
Now, truth, according to John, deals with understanding and obeying God. Love deals with giving to those in need. In his letter, John is adamant we must have and use both.
In fact, he is very powerful with his condemnation of having one attribute without the other. He writes in Chapter 2, verses 3-4, “We know that we have come to know him [God] if we keep his commands.Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.”
Later, in Chapter 3, John also says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
So, truth and love must coexist inside a believer. But, what about balancing the two? In Matthew, Chapter 22, when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He told them it was loving God with all your heart, mind and soul. And He stressed this came first. He went on to say the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself.
When it comes to knowing how to balance truth and love, Jesus said truth (understanding and obeying God’s Word) must come first. This is to be followed by loving your neighbor (those in need).
Perhaps, one of the best examples of balancing truth and love is the account of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. Again chronicled by John the Disciple in the Gospel of John, Chapter 8, this account tells of a woman being caught in bed with a man who she was not married to. The religious teachers of Jesus’ day brought her before Jesus and asked what should be done with her because she was caught in sin. According to the Law of Moses, she should be put to death.
To their surprise, Jesus tells them “Let any of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And, one by one, they all drop their stones and leave.
Then, Jesus turns to the woman and He says, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
While Jesus shows mercy to the woman, He also acknowledges that she is not living a life which honors God. And He is truthful with her when He tells her to leave her sinful lifestyle. He does not ignore what she is doing is wrong.
As true Christians, we must keep in mind, both truth and love when making decisions. If we only look at truth (God’s commands), we become legalistic. If we only see things through the filter of love, we become immoral in our choices.
We must be willing to ask ourselves, “Where do we stand on God’s balancing scales? Are we withholding compassion to those in need because of sin, or are we ignoring sin because we pass out mercy too freely?”
God’s scales don’t lie.