The Truth in Love
by Stephanie Olson, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
I have recently had the opportunity to see a lot of the same thing around me. A lack of love in the Body of Christ. I have noticed a trend in the Church: we are critical, unloving, and unkind to one another at times. It grieves my heart. I have to believe it grieves the Holy Spirit as well.
Not long ago I saw a post on Facebook in which the original poster spoke against what he considered false doctrine running through the Body. I happened to agree with a portion of his post and thought he was respectful in what he said; however, the comments that followed were not. There was name-calling, there were snarky comments, and there was a great lack of love.
Now, please, don't misunderstand me. When we see false doctrine in the Church, we are to be a voice of truth. If you know us at all, we certainly do not shy away from speaking truth. Paul in 1 Timothy 1:18-20 very clearly calls those who are teaching lies by name: "This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme."
We see Jesus warning us over and over again in the book of Matthew that we must be aware of false prophets who will deceive. We can be deceived, and we must stay close to the Word of God; however, when we are trying to steer our brothers and sisters in Christ in the direction of truth, we have to do it in love.
Now, there are those who might say, Well, didn't Jesus call people names?
Well, he did have a way with words when calling out the religious leaders of the times, I'll give you that. In Matthew we see words like hypocrite, brood of vipers, child of hell, serpents, generations of vipers, whited sepulchres (or whitewashed tombs), danger of hell-fire, and even fools. Sounds pretty harsh. But we have to recognize that Jesus knew the heart of each and every one of these leaders. He wasn't reacting in anger or animosity but revealing their true character and true heart to cause them to repent and turn to Him. That's something we don't have the ability to do.
I love what Ephesians 4:11-17 says: "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." (emphasis mine)
We are the Body of Christ, and He is the head. Yes, there are those who are tossed around by the deceivers and false teachers, but we must speak the truth in LOVE. That is how we will win others to the Kingdom. There are those who are in deception, and for their benefit, we must pray for them. There are those who have been taught incorrectly, and we must pray for them. And with all of these, we must be respectful and love them; we must tell them the truth in love. That's what Jesus does.