Bringing radical thoughts worth pondering (A blog of poriruachurch.com)
We must be sure that the church is filled with love. “A church where there is bitterness and strife may call itself a church of men, but it has no right to call itself a church of Christ” (William Barclay). Indeed, Jesus said: “by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (Jn. 13:35)
It is important that we apply the principles learned from our definition of love to our relationship with God. Our love for God is more than emotion. It is also an active love. We can only show our love for God by giving him our unquestioning obedience. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (Jn. 14:15) “If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my father will love him…” (Jn. 14:23) “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” (1 Jn. 5:3) These passages make it plain that if we truly love God, we will obey him. If we refuse to obey, we do not love Him. Our love for God is active.
Our love for God must also be an exclusive love. This has always been the supreme command. Under the law a man was to love God “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:30) The same is true under the gospel. Our love for God is an exclusive love. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt. 6:24) Our love for God must be stronger than our love for man regardless of who that man may be. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:37)
Christians must also have a strong love for the truth. We love the truth because of what it does for us. The truth is God’s power to save our souls (Jn. 8:32; Rom. 1:16). Obedience to the truth purifies our souls (1 Peter 1:22). God’s word tells us of his love and our sins. It reveals what God requires of us in order to be saved. In view of this, how can we keep from loving the truth?
If we truly love the truth we will be willing to preach the truth. We will also be willing to stand for the truth in the face of false teaching. As Paul was nearing the end of his life he instructed Timothy to “preach the word”. That charge included reproving and rebuking. The reason for Paul’s charge was “for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” Teachers would come who would “turn away their ears from the truth unto fables.” (2 Tim. 4:2-4) Those who love the truth will always be willing to stand for it. This means that sometimes we may have to stand against friends. Our loyalty, however, must always be to God and his word. This does not mean that we must ever choose whether we will love God or man. The Bible teaches that if we truly love our brother we will put obedience to God’s word first (1 Jn. 5:2). If we love our brother we will stand for the truth even if standing for the truth puts us in opposition to him.
While we are to stand for the truth, let us be sure that what we stand for is truth and not just our opinion. Let us also remember Paul’s words: “But speaking the truth in love.” (Eph. 4:15) The responsibility to stand for the truth is not a license to abuse people, or to speak evil of people. Truth must be spoken in love.
We live in the midst of a religious world where the truth has been compromised to the point that the average person cannot separate it from error. We must ever be cautious not to become guilty of compromise just for the sake of unity and peace. Truth is distinctive, and we are responsible for keeping it distinctive in our teaching. “Buy the truth and sell it not; also wisdom and instruction, and understanding.” (Prov. 23:23) Love for the truth will compel us to follow this inspired admonition.
Ron Harper, Enduring Words, Vol. 2, Issue 3, March 1983