My wife, Beth, and I had just met a young couple as we were leaving church. After visiting with these strangers for a few minutes, we invited them to go eat lunch with our family. We found ourselves laughing and devouring sandwiches and getting to know them. After asking Matt what part of town he lived in, I innocently proceeded to ask the same question of Stacie. In between bites, in matter-of-fact fashion, she replied that they lived together.
God served this up on a silver platter for you. The other voice was kinder and gentler: You just met them, Dave. Let it go for now, otherwise they are going to turn away.
Truth and love
There will be more opportunities later, after they get to know you all, and then you can challenge them with biblical truth. In just a few words, Jesus demonstrated the most powerful and potent combo when it comes to navigating your way through the land mines associated with differing beliefs and behavioral expectations. Such is the world we live in today. This past year certainly underscored we have a lot to learn in knowing how to interact and converse with those whose views and values differ from our own. Whether it was the way your preacher handled the pandemic or your boss addressed the racial unrest or your local leaders managed the shutdown of restaurants, schools, and churches.
But I contend that Christians can hold different opinions than other Christians and nonbelievers and still remain faithful to Christ. I even believe that, in most situations, we can disagree without being disagreeable. Even when someone criticizes you or sends you a nasty questioning a decision, you can still take the high road. If the conflict arises in a conversation, try to patiently wait while you intently listen.
Truth + love: the balancing act
If someone writes to criticize you, I suggest you look for any truth in their words, own what you should, repent if you are guilty, thank them for personally writing to you versus publicly complaining about you to othersand then wait a day or two before you send it. While diplomacy may be fading in society, it can still be evident in the life of the believer.
The word instead indicates Paul wants the actions and words of Christians to look and sound quite different from the world.
The church already has enough chameleon Christians who allow their setting and surroundings to dictate their decisions and alter their actions. But if there is harshness to your tone, if your nonverbal communication lacks love, then you have unknowingly discouraged your congregation from ever wanting to invite an unchurched friend to come to church with them. The truth must be spoken. Someone defined tact as the ability to make someone feel at home—when you wish that they were! At other times, you might excel at speaking in a loving manner. It might occur in a small gathering or perhaps when a crying person privately tells you a sad story that makes you side with them.
John: how to balance truth and love
So, it depends on the setting. He wants us to speak the truth in love. Priscilla and Aquila could have embarrassed Apollos before the crowd in the synagogue or taken him aside privately and debated him, but they took the high road. They invited him into their home, a safe and comfortable place.
Home is a setting where questions could be asked and truth could be taught. Some situations and settings, like my impromptu lunch conversation, require an immediate response on a delicate subject right where you are. Grace plus truth equals love. In these contentious times, is it possible to honor biblical truth and still be loving? If you have a pulse, then at times you will be tempted to lower your Christian standards to avoid conflict in the break room, locker room, board room, and even your own living room.
And yet, you know there are moments when God is expecting you to swim against the current.
“striking the balance” between truth and love
I did hear voices in my head during our lunch that day. One voice urged me toward righteous anger and boldness while another voice encouraged me to escape the subject of living together by avoiding it altogether.
But, at the risk of sounding schizophrenic, thank the Lord there was a third voice. It sounded like the voice of my dad. Words from my favorite sermon of his came to mind. Looking back, it probably was the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but throughout my life, quite often that voice has closely resembled the uncompromising, loving tones of my father. So I swallowed a bite of my sandwich. But I went on to share that God lays out a better route that can actually offer a deeper love, a fuller commitment and covenant.
They showed up that Wednesday. Three weeks later, Matt and Stacie changed their living arrangements, and I had the privilege of baptizing them into Christ. About four months later, I performed their wedding. God did it. We had a front-row seat to his power. He is always the central figure in any story of transformation. But he wants to use your creativity, personality, and faithfulness as you speak the truth in love to help draw people to him.
How much media is too much media?
I used the example of a couple living together outside of marriage, but in this world where moral relativism rules, there are many touchy topics that need to be turned toward the truth. Just make certain you do so with his grace and love. God is always the central figure in any story of transformation. For those of you who tend to instantly gravitate toward truth rather than grace, practice pressing pause and try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Why do they behave or believe the way they do?
How you say words of truth is just as important as what you say. Thank you Dave. Well done, well said. Save my name,and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
Balancing truth and love
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