Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tough Stuff Tuesday: True Love vs. Tolerance

Can you love someone too much to tell them the truth of God's word? Can you love someone so much that you accept their actions no matter what kind of soul-endangering situation they are in? Can you love someone so much that you let them think that they are "fine" when in reality, their soul is heading down a broad, destructive path toward Hell?

Tolerance is defined as "a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, etc. differ from one's own." Simply put: what you do doesn't matter to me even if I wouldn't want it for myself.

 1 Peter 4:8 tells us:
"And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins.'"
This doesn't mean that love sweeps things under the rug; that love makes wrongs right. This doesn't mean that my love for you prohibits me from telling you when you've done something wrong. Quite the opposite, really.

James 5:19-20 says:
"Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins."
When we turn our brothers and sisters (and the world!) away from their sins, we cover those sins. We have saved those people. Now, we know that it is not our blood that saves, but Jesus'. We know that it is not our power that saves, but the power of the gospel. Still, James says that if we turn someone back to the truth, we cover a multitude of sins.

It's interesting to me that the same phrase is used in both James and 1 Peter. If we put those together, we see a beautiful picture of what true love actually is: when a brother has wandered away from the truth (what God wants/expects/has commanded) and we tell them about it and encourage them to come home, we will save that person from a multitude of their sins because we loved them enough to help.

If we truly loved the world and our wayward brothers and sisters in Christ as we are commanded, we would be helping people out of their sins. We would be sharing the truth with them, because the truth is the only thing that can set them free from their sins (John 8:32). We wouldn't be allowing people to continue in their sins, all the while assuring them that God loves them anyway. No, we would be telling them that God loves them SO much that He sent Jesus to die for them so that He could wash away those sins.

Look back to the definition of tolerance. To tolerate means to have a permissive attitude. As Christians, we cannot be people who tolerate things that God has said will send people to eternal punishment! We must love every single person on this planet enough to tell them what they must do to escape wrath and condemnation. When I disagree with a certain belief or lifestyle or habit, it is never because I hate the individual who is practicing such a thing. On the contrary! It is because I love that person so much and care for their soul so much that I don't want them to perish in the eternal fire that God has promised will consume those who practice such things!

Ephesians 4:15 admonishes us to 'speak the truth in love'. Unless we are equally speaking truth and speaking it in love, we are failing the lost of this world and we are failing Jesus Christ. We will never win people over for Christ if we are not showing them the love of the Father, and we will never cover a multitude of sins if we fail to show people the error of their ways.

Today, it is my prayer that I will love people in the right way. I pray that I will love others enough to tell them that God has sent His Son for them so that they can be free from the bondage of sin, and that I will convey that truth in a way that cannot be mistaken for anything other than true love and concern.

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