[Love] does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth (1 Cor. 13:6).
The word “love” has taken a beating over the years, and we Christians have far too often been part of the problem instead of the solution. We’ve allowed the culture of the day to influence our thinking and interpretation of the word, rather than adhering to God’s purpose and definition. As a result, we are in danger of reducing the word love to a synonym for being “nice” and non-offensive, thus stripping it of its power to rescue and redeem.
Now most of us know that the word love has more than one specific definition, but when we look at the word as it is used in the Scriptures to define the very characteristic and essence of God, we don’t find any wiggle room. Nowhere is the word better defined than in 1 Corinthians 13, the famous “love chapter.”
Most of us like the verses that say love is kind and humble and that it isn’t rude or envious or boastful. But what about the verse that says it “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth”? If we, as Christians—and particularly those of us who claim to be writers and speakers/teachers of God’s Word—don’t apply that verse to our own lives, how dare we presume to preach God’s love to others? God’s love is deep enough and faithful enough that it gets in the face of sin and calls the sinner to repentance, and then rejoices when that sinner repents and embraces the truth.
But have you noticed that not everyone responds favorably to an in-your-face-John-the-Baptist “turn or burn” message? Chances are, if you’ve ever delivered one—either verbally or in written form—you’ve received some less than enthusiastic responses. In an age of tolerance and political correctness, we Christians have the most intolerant, politically incorrect message on the planet—and God has commanded us to go into all the world and proclaim it, regardless of the results.
True, we are to “speak the truth in love,” meaning that the ultimate goal of our message is to see people come to repentance and embrace the truth so they can be saved, and we are to proclaim that message humbly, knowing that it is only by God’s mercy that we ourselves are saved. But the bottom line is, we are to speak that message anywhere and everywhere we get the chance. We do no one a favor by sugar-coating our words in an attempt not to offend anyone.
Decades ago I worked as a part-time secretary at a small church (not the one I attended) that had once burned with passion for Jesus but had since fallen into a deplorable lukewarm state of social acceptance. When the pastor turned over the monthly newsletter to me and told me I could put whatever I wanted into it, I wrote up my testimony and plastered it on the front page. Then I mailed it out to the approximately 250 people on the mailing list. A few days later an elderly man came into the office and demanded to speak to the pastor, and he insisted that I accompany him into the pastor’s office. I did, and as I stood there in the doorway, I watched and listened as that man planted himself in front of the pastor’s desk, slammed the newsletter down in front of him, and demanded, “Is this true?”
The pastor was stunned and asked what the man meant. The gentleman explained that he wanted to know if what I’d said about repenting and accepting Jesus as my Savior and being “born again” was absolutely the ONLY way to heaven. The pastor’s eyes glazed over for a moment, and his Adam’s apple bobbed a bit before he answered. Finally he bowed his head and nodded, admitting without speaking that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” and that NO ONE comes to the Father except through Him.
And then the old man’s voice dropped and trembled, as tears formed in his eyes and he asked the man who claimed to be his earthly shepherd, “Then why didn’t you tell me? I’ve sat in your church and listened to your sermons for years. Why didn’t you tell me?”
The pastor, his head still bowed in shame, answered, “Because I didn’t want to offend you.”
Beloved readers, fellow scribes, and brothers and sisters in Christ, love does not refrain from speaking truth for fear of offending. Love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.” Love understands that we live in a world that is bound for hell and eternal separation from God, and that only we have the words that can deliver the captives and restore them to right relationship with their Maker. Will we offend some by those words? Absolutely. The message of the Cross is always an offense to those who prefer to remain in their sins. But better to risk offending the hell-bound sinners than to hear their voices echo in our ears on Judgment Day, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
May God’s truth be at the heart of all you write, say, and do this week, and may you speak it with love and boldness as you seek to serve Truth Himself.
Kathi Macias is an Angel-award winning writer who has authored seventeen books, including the bestselling devotional A Moment A Day from Regal Books, and the popular Matthews and Matthews detective novels from Broadman and Holman. Kathi has written commentary for Thomas Nelson’s Spirit-Filled Life Bible (Student Edition) and was part of the devotional writing team for Zondervan’s New Women’s Devotional Bible. Her numerous articles, short stories, and poems have appeared in various periodicals. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and has appeared on several radio and TV programs. A mother and grandmother, Kathi lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where she is at work on several writing and editing projects. An ordained minister, Kathi serves as spiritual adviser to the Christian Authors Network and membership chairman for the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.