The Relationship of Truth and Love

truth-in-loveTruth and love have a symbiotic relationship. You cannot have one without the other less we confuse truth with facts. You can have true facts without love – in the church this looks like religion. Truth is a Person. Jesus lived is a fact of history. Jesus lives is a truth of eternity. His life is the great message of love. Jesus is the expression to the world that God is love. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, Jesus . . .

Truth, by its very nature, is exclusive of all that is false. Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life, means that all other like claims are false. Jesus doesn’t give life, He is life. He gives Himself. Jesus doesn’t show us the way, He is the way. Jesus is not just a truth teller, He is Truth. Jesus excludes that which is not Jesus from being the truth. Buddha, Vishnu, Mohammed, Zeus, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster are all excluded.

Love, by its very nature, is inclusive – For God so loved the world.  . .  Love included the Samaritan woman at the well; it included the woman caught in the sin of adultery, the tax collectors, prostitutes, drunkards, and sinners of all kinds. Jesus loved every soldier and sinner that nailed Him to the cross.

The problem is when we confuse love and truth or only operate with half the equation. Love and truth always work in tandem. Love does not exclude even though truth is not inclusive of non-truth. We err when we withhold love because of an aberration in truth. We also err when we distort truth in efforts to extend love. Jesus did not condone the women caught in adultery, but neither did He condemn her. Jesus is not soft on sin when He is merciful to a sinner. He does not create ways for us to continue in our sin, He offers Himself as the way out even unto giving His own life for our freedom.

Sometimes love, if we are doing it well, will look like participation in or endorsement of sin to the religious. And yet we are in the world, but not of it. If we cross the line into sin, we cannot help those in sin. If we aren’t confounding the religious by how far over the line we go (proximity) to sit with sinners we won’t be helping anyone either. The Pharisees accused Jesus, who was without sin, of being a glutton, drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and sinners.[1] Jesus was on a mission to free the captives and the oppressed.[2] The captives don’t hang out in the light, they live in the dark. The more captive they are the darker their abode will be.

The only way the Truth can set the captives free is if we take the Truth to the captives through love. Truth without love is religion. It is a misnomer for you can’t truly have truth without love. Love without truth is merely human compassion that we confuse with love. Love without truth will not free the captives for it is truth that sets us free and love that helps us connect with the truth. Paul writes in I Corinthians 13 that love rejoices in the truth.

ChristPeople like to quote “speak the truth in love” as a mandate to tell people the truth about their sin, right and wrong, and even to correct people’s politics to mirror their own. We find this portion of a verse within a greater teaching in Ephesians 4 about the church growing up into Christ. In this instance, the goal of speaking the truth in love is in encouraging one another into great maturity within the body as we grow in Christ. It is not a license or a mandate to go into the world and tell people what they are doing wrong.

There is a place for one who is spiritual to restore another who is in sin in grace and truth – but that is a matter of relationship within the context of a church community. We also are called to be a light in the darkness – let’s let our light shine brighter than our tongue. If we love we will have opportunities for sharing the truth.

Personally as a person who loves truth and thinks along logical factual lines, I find it difficult to not jump in with the facts first. But when love is tangible, the truth flows in a different manner that does not reject the captive despite their receptivity to the truth.

Recently, I’ve come face to face with challenges that put this into perspective. The truth is not to be compromised, but neither is love. I don’t have to choose one over the other. Love never fails and it always rejoices in the truth. We only think love fails when we put a time limit on it. God is not slow to keep his promises, but He is patient. Love is patient. It is kind. It is never self-seeking.

Our problem, as Christians, is not usually a lack of truth, but a lack of love. Love always rejoices in the truth. So if we are losing our handle on truth, it is because our love is low. If we are heavy handed on the truth, our love is low. Love keeps no records of wrongs. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It always perseveres. . .

[1] Luke 7:34

[2] Luke 4:18-19

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