Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, often says, “Truth without love is imperious self-righteousness. Love without truth is cowardly self-indulgence.”
This has been instructive to me personally because I’m the kind of person who avoids conflict; I’ll hedge being as truthful as I should be when I fear it could produce emotional disagreement. It’s been a good reminder to be both loving and truthful.
Some people are the opposite. They’re quite comfortable sharing the truth but do it in a manner that offends.
Christians can err on both sides of the equation when sharing the Gospel or other things the Bible teaches—either not being forthright enough or being offensive in the way they share the truth. Greg cautions, “The Gospel is offensive enough. Don’t add any more offense to it. But we dare not remove the offense inherent to the Gospel.” Peter tells us to give an answer with gentleness and respect. Paul tells us that the cross will offend, and so will other teachings of Jesus. His teachings made a lot of people mad during His time on earth, and his disciples were often met with the same reaction when they passed on His teachings.
Our culture today tells us that loving someone is accepting him without disagreement. Tolerance requires no criticism of different views. Of course, that’s not applied to Christians. There’s going to be more pressure on Christians as time goes on not to speak the truth that offends, but it’s our obligation to be faithful.
But it becomes more of a temptation to be angry as we are met with unfair and unjust treatment. Still, Peter’s admonition to answer with gentleness and respect doesn’t have exceptions.
Our task as ambassadors for Christ is becoming more challenging. But we have to remember to do it with both truth and love at all times.