“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” 1 Corinthians 13:6
Awe…love. Who doesn’t like to talk about love? Think about how many songs have been sung, movies shot, and books written on the subject. Love is oftentimes portrayed as that warm fuzzy feeling we have when we have a deep emotional connection with another individual with whom we are physically attracted. Without the romanticizing of love there would be no Valentine’s Day, no red roses, and no Hallmark movies.
Many of us have understood since we were young that the greatest commandment—after loving God—is to love your neighbor as yourself. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. I think it’s fair to say that for many of us as believers in Jesus Christ, we have not always done a great job of loving each other. Love is an easy concept to talk about, but difficult to practice.
Love has become a complicated topic in our culture. Like many concepts and institutions in our day, the idea of “love” and “hate” have been hijacked. The words are the same, but the uses of the words have dramatically changed. If we’re not paying attention, we may start to believe that the truth surrounding these words have changed, too.
Within our own culture we’ve been criticized as Christians for being judgmental. Some of this criticism is valid. I know that I’ve been guilty as charged at times. We would all do well to remember that we are broken people. None of us are perfect and we “all sin and fall short of the Glory of God.”[i] Keeping this perspective would go a long way in building trust and repairing broken relationships.
The truth about love is that—much to the dismay of many—it’s not a blanket stamp of approval on all and every lifestyle choice. While it’s important that we are tolerant and respectful of ALL people, we can love them without loving their life choices. We can love and appreciate someone without buying into their idea of reality. It can be a difficult distinction to make at times, but a critical one.
The biblical concept of love is inextricably tied to truth. The two cannot be separated. Real, authentic love can only happen when combined with truth. Truth without love is cruelty, but love without truth is perversion.
We don’t have to blindly buy into everything that our culture is selling as love. In recent days, for example, some who hold an opposing worldview are attempting to normalize pedophilia (sexual acts with children)! How can we stand by and not take a stand for truth? God doesn’t want us to live in isolation, so He created relationships and established boundaries around them for our protection.
It’s not kind to allow people to suffer from the consequences of bad choices without offering them hope, help, and the truth. The apostle Paul said, “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is beneficial.” God, in his infinite wisdom, gave us free will to make any choice we would like, but He also provided boundaries to show us which choices will help us and which may hurt us.
As believers in Jesus, we have an obligation to speak truth to our friends and family whose poor choices are causing chaos in their lives and those around them. We don’t need to be rude or abrasive, but we can’t ignore the consequences of destructive behavior, either. Let’s show love and respect for everyone, regardless of who they are, what they believe, or how they act.
The truth is—the more we learn to love God with all of our heart and with all of our soul and with all of our strength, the more we will be able to authentically love others, especially those we don’t agree with.
[i] Romans 3:23