Loving truth AND loving others

1 Cor. 13:6 — Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (NIV)

The careful walk we must take in the Spirit is to understand we want to communicate with kindness, but we cannot work so hard on being kind that we neglect truth. Then, there is the other side that gives little regard for kindness because TRUTH is to vital to them.

If we work so hard to be kind but neglect truth, we imperil others who are obviously ignoring something that bring LIFE. But truth delivered without compassion or kindness is likely to fall on deaf ears.

What brings that balance is the powerful love of God. It is sincere love that causes us to wake up to truth and then long for Kingdom rightness to be brought into the lives of others. It is a heart with feeling compassion that draws us to others and with every possible means we want to bring TRUTH into other lives. The heart truly set free by Christ longs for truth in others and does its best to communicate with kindness.

But the truth spoken in love doesn’t always meet with “positive” results. The thing to remember then is that the results are not up to us. We don’t get to dictate the response at the altar call. We WANT to manipulate that response, but a heart set free by Christ will not let that happen.

Speak truth in love. Rejoice in truth. Rejoice in loving others. Do not manipulate others for response. Bring Kingdom rightness and let the Spirit bring the results.

 

The Radical Love of Christ

1 Corinthians 13. I usually avoid this chapter because it was so abused at weddings over the years. Coming back to this chapter as an “ancient well” in my spiritual reading is always the toughest passage to visit.

But it is so needed. Especially in the Body of Christ. Especially in this day.
The Corinthians church was into spiritual superiority. They were taking different gifts and treating them as marks of superiority. The powerful manifestation gifts (tongues, healing, prophecy, etc.) were treasured and exalted. Yet, other groups would take their favorites (or the ones they loved but were getting beat up by the other groups) and would whack away at their “opposition.”
Opposition in the Body of Christ. It’s an ancient tale.
It seems this is the game we play. We know the greatest commandments: Love God. Love the neighbor.
But today, I would ask, “Who is my neighbor?”
And for the Church, Jesus might give a different illustration. The reason I say that is today we, as believers, seem more intent on loving our neighbor who isn’t a believer than loving our neighbor who just may be a believer… just not “our kind” of believer.
In this, the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 ring a bit more true.
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:2-3, NIV)
No one is without excuse.
“Who is my neighbor?”
It’s the Pentecostal you can’t stand because he talks too much about praying for healing. It’s the Episcopalian you can’t stand because she’s involved in “dead ritual.” It’s the Lutheran you can’t stand because they always want to help the poor. It’s the Catholic, because… It’s the Presbyterian, because…
We spend so much time yipping at each other, we forget the very mark of Christ that is supposed to distinguish us from the rest of the world! “See how they love one another.
May we finally hear those words of our Savior and our King, and actually work by the power of the Spirit to make them real.

Truly Loving

1 Corinthians 13 was the most over-read Scripture at weddings for years and years. What a shock to find out it had nothing to do with weddings.

It does deal with the spiritual arrogance of a group of people who were using manifestation gifts to beat up on other believers.

In the middle of a discussion on manifestation gifts Paul gives the very foundation for how gifts should be used. But that word is one of the most messed up words in our culture today: LOVE.

Our world is generally good at contorting words. So, when a text uses “love” and we superimpose our very weak version of “love” onto it, we really lose sight of some incredible possibilities with the word Paul is giving.

Several years ago in a theology class at Luther Seminary, my professor talked about what it meant to walk in love and speak the truth in love. When you love someone, you want the best for them. As a believer, you want God’s best for them. When we know our freedom in Christ, we will be able to truly speak the truth in love.

This is how it looks: We speak truth into their lives without fear of the response. We speak without manipulation. If I truly love someone, I speak what I truly understand to be the Kingdom’s best for them, yet I yield to the work of the Spirit. Too many times it is tempting to speak into someone’s life to manipulate a response. We know what we want them to say in response and we work hard to get that response.

The other thing we do when we are truly free in Christ we speak the truth in love and we cannot worry about the response. We may want a “positive” response. We may not get it. It’s not our call.

Loving someone is seeking God’s best in their lives. I want to show people God’s best. Not everyone goes for it. I’ve learned to relax over that. It helps me to keep on loving them. The rest is up to the Spirit.

Walking in the love of the Kingdom is something far beyond the lousy definitions of “love” we carry in this world. It is tougher. It is richer. It is worth it.

Walk in love.