Thursday, March 8, 2012

Be Careful How You Teach

I recently heard a lesson from Dan Winkler and he said,

"There are two types of false teachers: those who don't teach the truth, and those who teach the truth but don't do so in love. Both are equally wrong." 

Often, we think of false teachers as those who teach things that are contrary to what the Bible teaches. While that is most certainly true (1 John 4:1), people who teach correct things in an incorrect manner are equally as wrong.

Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak truth in love. In today's culture, many people want to divorce truth and love, but the Bible tells us that it can't be that way. We cannot give people the truth without love, and we cannot love people without giving them the truth. If we truly love, we will tell people how to get out of the sin that is entangling them. If we know the truth, we know of God's love and we will extend it to others.

As you know, the sin of homosexuality has been on my mind lately because it seems to be running rampant in our churches, in our Christian schools, and most definitely in our society as a whole. It is also the first topic that comes to mind when I think of people who divorce truth and love.

On the one hand, people that know and preach the truth know that homosexuality is a sin (1 Cor. 6:9) and therefore tell other people about it. A lot of times (though most assuredly not all the time), those with the truth choose to convey the truth in a way that isn't loving at all. I think of the signs that the Westboro Baptist Church people put up. How on earth can they consider what they're doing to be speaking the truth in love? It isn't at all. It isn't always as blatant, though. You and I can do the same thing by belittling those who struggle with homosexuality and by mocking and making fun of them.

On the other hand, you have the people who know that the Bible tells them to love, and so they do so whole-heartedly. The problem, though, is that they never tell those whom they "love" what the Bible actually teaches. Loving someone is not keeping the truth from them. That seems like the opposite of love to me. If we truly love, we are going to take care of physical and emotional needs, sure, but first and foremost we're going to take care of their spiritual needs.

We cannot separate truth and love. If we love God, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). What's that? Love and truth in the same command? Exactly. We show that we love by doing what God wants. If we want to spread the love of God to others, we are going to do so by fulfilling (keeping) the commands of God. Jesus said in Mark 16:15 to "go and preach the gospel." If we love God, we will go, armed with gospel, to all the world. If we love others, we will take them the gospel so that they can be reconciled to their God and Savior.  We can't just go in love only. We have to go in love, armed with truth. However, if we have the truth but don't have love, well, we just won't ever go. We won't love the people God created enough to take them the truth. Instead, we will revel in the fact that we have the truth and that we're saved, and we'll hide our lights under a bushel. We can't do that either. We can't keep the truth for ourselves, otherwise we're breaking God's commandments.

I say all of that to say this: we cannot keep dividing love and truth. We cannot excuse people's sins because we 'love' them. Jesus' love covered a multitude of sins, including my own. In order for other people's sins to be covered, they have to know the truth about Jesus and submit to His commands. However, I cannot beat people into submission with the truth. I have to show them the love of God in His truth in order to be effective.

This is a real struggle, finding the balance between love and truth. I pray that we can all find the balance, though, for our own salvation's sake and for the sake of other's salvation.

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments." 1 John 5:2

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