“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”
― Warren Wiersbe
I think sometimes, as Christians, we forget this.
We think that as long as our ideas are philosophically and theologically true, we can share them in ways that are offensive and divisive. And so “being right” becomes more important than showing love or reaching people.
Now that’s not to say we should’t speak the truth, because we know “love without truth is empty” and not really love at all.
But let us not fall for the trap that truth comes at the expense of love, or vice versa.
As Donald Miller writes:
We commonly believe that the Evil One wants us to teach bad theology, and I suppose he does. But what he wants to do more is to have us teach right theology in a way that devalues human beings, insults and belittles them, and so sets them against the loving message of God.
So if we teach right theology in a way that is condescending, we are just as guilty as being heretics. That’s why the Bible spends as much or more time talking about love as it does about doctrine. My guess is we love doctrine because it makes us feel superior, but neglect love because it calls for personal sacrifice and vulnerability.
And so we become personality heretics, speaking the truth, but teaching heresy.
14 Replies to “Truth Without Love is Brutality”
This reminds me of ” Changes that heal” by Henry Cloud (or John Townsend, I forget). He has an excellent section on the need for both truth and love — and what it looks like when either is absent.
That sounds great. WIll check it out. Thanks for reading.
Changes that Heal is a great book and that was a wonderful section of the book.
Thank you so much for writing this post. This very topic has been on my mind for months. The amount of hatred I have received lately for being a Christian has been eye-opening (because, according to those who staunchly oppose the Church, all Christians are hateful hypocrites obsessed with condemning sinners). It has made me seriously reflect on my own beliefs and behavior. Again, thank you!
When the a diocese of the Episcopal Church USA nominated a gay priest as Bishop (Gene Robinson), my dad asked me what I thought. At the time, I wasn’t sure but I told him, when I am not sure what or how God wants us to act, I remember the great commandments: love the Lord your God with all your hear, all your soul and all your mind; the second is like unto it – love thy neighbor as thyself. ON THIS, hang all the Law and the Prophets.
LOVE comes first – if we have sound doctrine but not love, we have nothing.
Thank you for an illuminating post.
For this, you should read 1 Corinthians 5 for wisdom and clarity. Loving God first means you put HIM first … and all of His word … and all of His will … and everyone, including yourself, after Him. So if we do this, we cannot celebrate or be in agreement with that which GRIEVES God, and His Holy Spirit within us. Our sin condemned Jesus — the Son of God. How then could we ever celebrate or condone unrepentant sin? That is why the 1st and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God. And loving our neighbor is then focused on wanting the same spiritual salvation for them, which is our greatest gift in life. If we want their spiritual salvation, we will not keep truth from them — but we also will not judge so harshly as to crush their spirit … for we too were once lost in sinfulness. It’s something we will always need to continually take to the Lord — because our hearts are wicked and bent on self. We can’t become unloving and mean-spirited. But we also can’t align ourselves with wickedness (unrepentant sin) and call it loving. God is love — and anything against Him is evil.
We sometimes focus on doctrine to control faith. We want to be in charge. That is idolatry. Love is beyond control either you love someone or you don’t (and therefore much more scary and like you say, presents us with sacrifice and truth.) The awesome prospect that God loves us whole-heatedly goes so deep and presents us with debts we cannot possibly repay that we have a hard time understanding it, believing it and responding to it. It is beyond us (literally and figuratively!) and that can make even the great intentions we have to witness to the truth fall tragically short. Somehow God is still making grace known in the world despite our assistance.
Thank you for bringing that word of Grace today!
One of the blessings/curses of being a first born child is this acute awareness of justice (sometimes JUSTICE!). “That’s not fair! That’s not right! They should not be doing that! That should not be allowed!” These thoughts are kind of the default setting that my brain evaluates situations with. I struggle with mercy–both the giving and receiving of it. As God has brought me to a better understanding of my need for mercy (my need to receive it from Him and my need to demonstrate it to others), it has been difficult to reconcile the wrongs that truly need to be righted with the people who need to be loved. I by no means have this figured out, but one principle that my pastor taught has been helpful to me: If your motivation for confronting someone with the truth is anger, you are not the person who needs to confront him/her. This does not mean that this person does not need to hear the truth; it means that if you are not motivated by love (which carries more sorrow than anger), you are not acting on behalf of God, but on behalf of your own self-righteousness.
May God grant that we, his children, demonstrate such undeniable love for those around us, that when we speak the truth it will be equally undeniable.
Thanks for sharing these powerful truths
I highly believe a balance between love and truth are essential when it comes to being a Christin. Great post and reminder.
Mate I love reading your blog. Simple strategies that are so helpful. Keep up the great work Tom.
It’s amazing how we judge and condemn others while we hide under the umbrella of “speaking the truth in love”. And I can’t agree any further that “we love doctrine because it make us feel superior”, I remember witnessing to a muslim friend and telling her she would go to hell if she doesn’t accept Jesus. Her response was natural and expected, as she called me a fool and asked “who told me she wanted to go to heaven in the first place?”. That night, I “felt” all cool with myself…afterall, I have preached the Message and whether she choose to believe or not was her cup of tea. I felt I had partaken of Jesus’ suffering by being called a fool, but in retrospect I guess that’s the most cruel thing I have done in years-speaking the truth without love. Christ is the embodiment of love, grace, and truth, He is balanced in every way and our calling is to emulate Him, not judging and condemning others. Speaking the truth without love is the most cruel thing we can ever do to a fellow creation of our loving God.
Thanks fr=or taking the time to read and comment, and thanks for sharing your own story…
You are welcome Tombasson. It’s an honour.