Paul said to the Ephesians to “speak the truth in love”. The speaking of truth from someone with a cold heart might be doctrinally accurate, but it will seem like a slap of cold steel to the hearer. We must love Christ and we must love our fellow man or else all of our defending will turn people off. And whatever converts we make will learn imitate the same cold and heartless religion that appealed to them.
See loving the Truth is essential but if we don’t love man in a compassionate and patient way, we fall short of being like Christ. It was the heart of Jesus that led him to speak to Zaccheus amid the concerns and criticisms of the cold religious leaders who only saw fault in His eating with sinners, Lk 19:1-10. It was love that Jesus had for the rich young man who wanted to know what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus didn’t offer the man a shortcut or water down what was necessary, not hardly, but Jesus loved him. Mark writes,
“Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me“, Mk 10:21.
The man turned and walked away sad because he had many riches. If we are going to tell people the hard truths about discipleship, we must first love the people.
The first and second great commandments are to love God and our neighbor. Until we have love, we should not teach others. First love them as God loved us, and then teach the lost the truth.
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