In the last week or so I have learned something that has been unfolding before me over the last two years. Not that I haven’t seen this many times before, both in myself and others, but the practise of defending truth, be it our own perception of truth or the perception of truth as articulated by others, must be done in love. This is not an option.
In our defence of our perception of truth, we are not given the liberty to set aside the principles of truth itself.
1 Corinthians 13 NIV
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all 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.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
I don’t know about you but this chapter authored by the Apostle Paul and inspired by the Holy Spirit, pretty well stops me dead in my tracks. This is the yardstick or measuring tool by which our actions and words, whether articulated in action, writing or voiced, are weighed.
As I read through the Holy Scriptures, time and time again I come across God telling us that He doesn’t want sacrifice but rather He wants mercy.
Matthew 9:13 NIV “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Look at all the parables that Jesus gave us where the reality of mercy being received and mercy being given are expounded upon. The over riding theme that I see within God’s Word is that we have been given mercy, therefore, we are to be merciful. Mercy is an expression of love, God’s love towards us and our understanding of receiving of God’s love is to be expressed in our mercy and love towards others.
It’s not that difficult to connect the dots.
However, in our dealings with one another, and this is Christians that I am talking about, which includes myself, and in our dealings with others who do not believe, far far too often we see the principles of love being put aside in order to justify the particular perception of truth being articulated.
And how is this lack of love, grace or mercy demonstrated you ask?
There is a general pattern that I have observed wherein the lack of love, grace and mercy is demonstrated while at the same time, other Biblical truths are expounded upon.
- undocumented, undefended or unjustified accusations
- demeaning name calling
- inferences that the vast majority of others have it all wrong
- inferences that their perception of “real” Christian truth is superior to all other perceptions of Christian truth
- a perception that one’s understanding of “truth” cannot be questioned and to do so is and of itself, is an indication of one’s shallowness of understanding
The thing is, you don’t get to pick and choose which Biblical truths you want to expound upon, they come as a package and as the Apostle Paul indicates, unless these truths are wrapped in love, they are empty because the greatest attribute between faith, hope and love, is love.
The “perceptions of truth” that bother me the most is where some Christian infers that the practises that they have adopted are to be adopted by all other Christians, otherwise the vast majority of others are basically just being idolaters. Examples are:
- abandoning Church because all churches are now corrupt via their collusion with the government
- abandoning Christian commemorative holidays such as Christmas and Easter because they are based on pagan idolatry
- abandoning allegiance to our flag or country because corruption has now infiltrated all levels of government
- abandoning the inclusion of the weak brethren because the importance of their perceived Biblical truth is more important than their acceptance of the weak brethren
- abandoning the reciprocal principles of mercy, grace, forgiveness and love because their now superior understanding supersedes this requirement
I could go on but I’m pretty sure you catch my drift. I got caught up in this again for the second time in two years, last week. I entered into a discussion where I thought I was justified in voicing my objections (which I still maintain) but what I neglected to do was include the requirement of covering my comments within the framework of love. I have since apologized.
The same Apostle who gave us 1 Corinthians 13 also gave us Romans 14:1-13 NIV
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
- I have no quarrel with those who have decided to not attend Church, I think you are wrong but that is between you and God, just don’t advocate that we all should do it.
- I have no quarrel with those who have decided to not celebrate Christmas or Easter, I think you are wrong but that is between you and God, just don’t advocate that we all should do it.
- I have no quarrel with those who have decided to stop giving allegiance to flag or country, I think you are wrong but that is between you and God, just don’t advocate that we all should do it.
- I have no quarrel with those who have decided to abandon the weak brethren because the importance of your perceived Biblical truth is more important than the acceptance of the weak brethren. I think you are wrong but that is between you and God. Just don’t advocate that we all should do it.
- I have no quarrel with those who have decided to disregard the reciprocal principles of mercy, grace, forgiveness and love because your now superior understanding supersedes this requirement. I think you are wrong but that is between you and God. Just don’t advocate that we all should do it.
And, most importantly, in any discussions I have with you, when voicing my objection to your perception of “Biblical truth”, if I come across as being “more enlightened” than you, please forgive me because I would hope that is not my intent. I do have to confess that what I “hope” and what I actually do, are not always one and the same thing.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!