Over the years, one of the topics that I have given the most thought to has been the balance of truth and love. In my experience, most Christians don't do it well. On the one hand, there are those who are crusaders for truth. They know their Bibles well--at least parts of it. They are prophetic voices, speaking with conviction and clarity about issues facing the church and the world--abortion, sanctity of marriage, and religious freedom, to name a few. The church, the world, needs these prophets.
But too often, they fail to recognize that the Bible tells us that we should let everything we do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14). They use their words as weapons. Their primary goal is to win the argument, not love the person. And in so doing, they become clanging cymbals.
On the other hand, there are those who fail to take a stand for seemingly hard biblical truths. They know their Bibles well--at least parts of it. They assume that to be loving, they should not speak difficult truths to people and so they say nothing. Their desire is to bring comfort and hope to a hurting world. They promote a feet on the ground ministry of mercy, binding up wounds and feeding the hungry.
But too often, in their desire to be loving, they promote a soft, convictionless tolerance. They are content when the church conforms to culture, so long as they don't take hard stands.
But, the church needs more both/and Christians. We need the truth crusaders to continue to speak prophetically, but who recognize that words can harm. They need to act with gentleness and respect. They need to understand that a failure to control the tongue can ultimately harm the cause of Christ.
We need the other group to understand that failure to speak is ultimately a failure to love. They need to know that truth matters in real, tangible ways in the lives of every person they seek to love. They need to learn that a failure to use the tongue can ultimately harm the cause of Christ.
We need both/and Christians. Truth and love. Prophets and priests. We need Christians to do what is right (stand for truth), to do so with mercy, all with a spirit of godly humility.
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
-Micah 6:8 (NLT)