Speaking The Truth In Love
Thomas B. Warren
Each of us must strive to be loyal to Jesus Christ, and it is certainly clear that no man can be
loyal to Him if he does not love Him and his fellowman (Matt.22:37-38).
However, it is very easy for any one of us to become unbalanced in our response to His teaching.
It may be that one observes others who, it seems, in giving too much emphasis to doctrine, give
too little ’emphasis to love and, in reaction to that observation, comes to give too much emphasis
to love and too little emphasis to doctrine. Both of these are wrong.
Brother R. L. Whiteside rightly urged that the “preacher should so love the truth that he will not
sacrifice any of it nor pervert it….” Yet one who has come to wrongly emphasize love may come
to feel that he ought not to preach certain passages in the Bible because such preaching might
“hurt the feelings” of some who might hear that preaching. But to refrain from preaching what
God wants preached is to give proof that one does not love adequately either God or his fellow
man. If one withholds from his fellow man certain truths (which God has instructed us to preach),
because he thinks those truths will be unpleasant to at least some hearers, then he thereby proves
that he does not truly love either God’s creatures (human beings) or His truth (the Gospel of
Christ).
While it is certainly the case that Paul said that we should speak “truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), it is
also the case that when the apostles faced being charged “not to speak at all nor teach in the
name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18), Peter and John replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to
hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye…” (Acts 4:19). And it is also the case that when
the high priest said to them, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name: and behold, ye
have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us,” Peter
and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The apostles then
proceeded to preach that the Jews did slay Jesus. As a result of this preaching which, no doubt,
was done in love of both God and man (in this case, the Jews who had crucified Jesus) (Acts
5:30-32), many were baptized into Christ.
Our responsibility is not to “put our ears to the ground” (in an effort to learn what men want us to
preach) but to “preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with
all longsuffering and teaching” (II Tim. 4:2).
Let us not allow the devil to deceive us into believing that we show love when we fail to preach
“the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) to a lost and dying world. Let each of us examine
himself to see if he is in the faith (II Cor. 13:5). To be sure, we must love–but our love must be
guided by God’s Word.
June 1998

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