English Articles

Love Ánd Truth

liefde en waarheid

by  Piet Guijt         image.jpeg 

In this article Piet Guijt shows the important biblical connection between Love and Truth. Love can sometimes be confronting and is not always ‘soft’. How do we speak the truth with love? And when are we to keep silent?

Contents
1. Introduction
2. Love and truth go together
3. Loving truth is not always ‘soft’
4. The love for truth
5. Truth can be confronting
6. Speaking truth with love
7. When do we speak the truth?
8. True or false unity?
9. Conclusion
Literature

1. Introduction

Nowadays people often talk about love and loving, which is very nice. Indeed, we are allowed and ‘are to’ love one another. God’s Word says several times that we are to love our neighbor like ourselves (e.g. Mat.19:19).
It is the second after the commandment to love God above all things.

Unfortunately, what we nowadays often see, is that also Christians, for the sake of love and loving one another, justify things that are not in agreement with the Bible or meant by the Bible. This is because people forget that God is also holy and, because of His love for us, He follows His own good precepts, follows His truth and also demands us to do so. The background of the wrong justification of what is not according to God’s will, is often that the truth, as it is indicated by the Bible, is not always understood in a way as we humans would want it to. In this article we will discuss various aspects of the relationship between love and truth.

 

2. Love and truth go together

God’s love is His motive to give the truth (His Word) and to follow the truth (His commandments and prohibitions, thus His guidelines for life). God’s truth, which ultimately sets man free (Jn 8:32), gives joy, peace, hope etc., is based on love. Love cannot be without truth, and truth cannot be without love.
Surely, without truth ‘love’ is not love. How much love and truth go together, appears from 1 Cor. 13:6 where it is said that love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. Love and truth belong together inseparably.

God’s truth is not because of the truth in itself, but because of God’s love for men. Exactly because love is the basis and the motive for the truth, the truth is that important and therefore we are not to ignore the truth. For what is not according to God’s truth (thus His precepts) causes damage and ultimately leads to death.

That love and truth (also in the sense of: according to reality) go hand in hand, people can also understand, even when considering that it’s strange that you would lie to the other person you love, thus to deceive the other person.
Love does not lie, does not speak untruth. When you love someone, you want the best for him and you do not want the other to be deceived, thus you speak the truth. You need to trust the other person, don’t you? Think about the ninth commandment: you shall not lie. Actually, it is a prohibition to bear false witness against your neighbor, thus (also) to be honest in the court. With the devil we see the opposite of truth and love.

The devil is not in the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he speaks lies (also halve truths), he speaks according to his nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies (Jn 8:44). He brings no freedom and life, but bondage and death.

Is there love without truth? Is there truth without love? Yes, but that is not as God has intended. An unfortunately current example. People who have sexual contact with someone of the same gender or even (want to) marry each other, and still say that God agrees to it because He is love, are violating God’s truth.
This sexual fellowship is not based on love as God has intended love (4). Love and untruth (= trespassing God’s wholesome precepts) do not go together, do not fit together.

3. Loving truth is not always ‘soft’

The reason why love is not always a good argument is to justify things, appears from the following example. It shows that love and truth are not always the way we would desire, namely to feel comfortable. Loving truth is sometimes not ‘nice’ at all, but can literally and/or figuratively be sharp and painful. Just imagine the next two situations.

a. Someone has a quite painful spot or maybe even a lump. He goes to the doctor, who does not examine the spot thoroughly. In order not to upset his patient, the doctor says that it’s nothing to be too worried about, and he gives an ointment for the sore spot. Unfortunately the patient dies after a short time, for in hindsight it appeared that he had a serious ailment. Gentle healers make stinking wounds that can be lethal sometimes.
b. Someone with the same ailment goes to the doctor, who sees that the cause is a serious lump. He doesn't like to tell it to the patient because it may seem loveless and hard, but he tells it in the best interest of the patient, and that he has to operate, thus has to use the scalpel to cut out the lump. Thanks to the operation the patient stays alive.

Which doctor was the most ‘loving’? Not the doctor that spoke only gentle words, but the doctor that had the courage to ‘use the scalpel’, which seemed so loveless. (1 Jn 3:18). What sometimes is presented as loving, for example permitting a homosexual relationship, is no love at all but rather the opposite, even if homosexuals want to deny that.

4. Love for the truth

We have seen that love is the motive for the truth, but the question can be asked: Do we love the truth? I mean: do we love God’s Word? This is very important, for people are lost because “they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (2 Thes 2:10). And that truth is God Himself and God’s Word (The sum of Your word is truth; Your Word is truth [Ps.119:160; Jn 17:17]). Also the Word that became flesh, Jesus Christ Who is the truth (Jn. 14:6). The truth is not subjective, but Personal. In addition, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (Jn 16:13). Not loving the truth is not loving God. People who deny truth or even suppress truth (Rom. 1:18), cannot love truth. To love truth of course doesn’t mean: following rules and dogmas and legalism as a slave.

In our so-called post-modern time, many people claim that the truth cannot be known or doesn’t even exist. Or the truth is being relativized: everyone has his own truth. But Jesus said: “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). By that He meant the truth as God sees it, and that should be our standard or measure. “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” (Jn 14:21,23).

Loving God’s truth should be a natural thing for a Christian. That truth surely has power and life, makes man happy and free, and isn’t that what we are longing for? And if we love the truth, we also love Jesus, not only because He is the truth, but also and especially because He gave His sinless life for our eternal salvation!

5. Truth can be confronting

No matter how beautiful and wholesome the Word of God may be, the truth can still arouse resistance sometimes. Sometimes a certain fear can arise when a certain text is explained differently than one has learnt formerly, and when he discovers that he may have to revise certain conceptions, it may sometimes result in a certain crisis in the faith life. Do we avoid that way, or do we really want to ‘pay the price’ to learn to know and embrace the truth as God has intended it?

It is also possible that certain biblical statements/truths are frightening, for example texts about the hell and the lake of fire. Because of that the supporters of the doctrine of General/Unlimited Atonement interpret various Bible texts in such a way that is totally in conflict with other Bible sections. Fear can also play a role in refusing to ponder on certain texts or traditions. Some people were not permitted by their parents to explain why they let themselves to be baptized by immersion and why the infant baptism by sprinkling has no biblical ground, for that could cause doubt in the faith of these parents.

But God’s Word can also be confronting to unbelievers, and when someone proclaims it, it can arouse resistance, which may result in lack of understanding, opposition, enmity and even persecution, even when you speak with respect. It is understandable that, because of fear for rejection, mockery etc. people keep silent or speak blurrily. Sometimes it may be a wise thing to keep silent, but not always as we will see below (par.7). If it really comes down to it, and there's revilement etc., then somebody who's really rooted in the Word of God will still stand in the spiritual battle when they face adversities and opposition from other people.

Here we arrive to the question to what extent someone loves the truth, thus is inwardly willing to know the truth whatever it takes. Think in this context of John 7:17 – “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself”. Surely, if someone is not willing to learn to know the truth of God, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, will not be able to reveal Himself to that person (Jn 14:21) and will not give the light on the text that is intended. For example feminists and trans-gender people interpret certain texts as they themselves would love to. Unfortunately, it is sometimes shocking how Bible texts are interpreted differently than they are intended. So with which motive and mind does one read the Bible?

Therefore, our mind, our hunger and devotion to God are very important. It is about devotion, about a personal faith relationship with the Lord. It’s not about ‘knowing’ God from far away, but about having an intimate relationship with our loving but also holy heavenly Father! It is possible to study the Bible with the intellect without having a living faith. But there are also believers who despite their little knowledge of the Bible, still have a living relationship with God and are filled with the Holy Spirit.

God first of all asks for our heart and then He will fill it with joy and passion for Him and for the Word, ánd love for our neighbor. God wants us to open ourselves for God’s revelation, that we may see how He sees. Surely, God has given His Word, His Son and His Holy Spirit out of love for us to redeem man and bring us to a level that God had originally designed at the creation of man. Theology, no matter how interesting for the intellect, may imply the danger that faith is more a matter of the brain than that of the heart. God is a God of the heart. We have fellowship with God through our faith and not through our intellect, no matter how important that intellect may be for the natural life.
The sons of God are those who are led by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14) and not by their intellect. It is the Spirit Who gives life (Jn 6:63). I also think of what Jesus said in John 7:38: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive”. Therefore, real Christian life and growth to adoption as sons (Rom. 8: 15, 23) is only possible by the Holy Spirit!

6. Speaking truth with love

Knowing the truth is the first step, but another point is the question whether one is willing to, or can, or has the courage to profess that truth. For even though the truth sets free, yet the truth of God’s Word can be unpleasant or even seem threatening for another person. Because when someone lives in sin, God’s Word will expose and denounce that. For we should not cover something that’s not right, certainly when we know that the other person will suffer damage by his or her sin. Of course, a distinction must be made between Christians and non-Christians. That the non-believing man lives a worldly life is understandable, but we should not expect that of a Christian nor allow it. But love ultimately leaves the choice up to the other person, even if that choice is wrong and even destructive.

So it can also be difficult for ourselves to speak truth because, as we wrote above, it can involve confrontation, rejection or even enmity. Or dare we not tell the truth for fear that we might be unloving? But to respectfully point out the truth to someone, even if it is sometimes confrontational or harsh, is not merciless. Mercilessness has more to do with lack of compassion.

Before we go into the question of when to speak truth, we would first like to emphasize that, with a sense of our own imperfection and shortcomings, we must of course speak the truth in love and from a passionate heart. It is very important that the other person can feel that. After all, God's truth is given so that we may live and reach our destination. Because God’s motive behind His truth is love.

Truth and love have to be in balance. It's that balance that's so important: to do justice to both truth and love. If either one is missing, so if the truth is obscured, or love is missing, then it goes wrong. They're both indispensable. This means that one must speak with respect for each other and with wisdom. Treat another always as you would want others to treat you. Freedom of expression is not meant to hurt or belittle others (10). Love does not act unbecomingly (1 Cor. 13:5).

7. When do we speak the truth?

Sometimes we need to keep silent and sometimes speak. Sometimes it is wise to keep quiet when the other person is not ready (yet) to be able to understand (God’s) truth or face it. After all, we must always keep in mind what a remark (for example a confronting truth) can do to another person, so how it can come across to the other person. Sometimes it is the case, for example, that something may not be said because of the government and that one has to be very careful when speaking the truth. For sometimes there is no freedom of speech and in countries like North-Korea or Iran you can just get thrown in jail if you criticize the great leaders or if you proclaim the gospel. And when you speak the truth about the malpractices you just get in trouble (10).

“In the Netherlands people are still allowed to speak out about a lot of things. Yet the freedom to tell the truth is under pressure, especially the opposing view.
The truth about certain matters like for example truth about the dangerous void of the secular thinking, about the dark sides of Islam ...the practice of abortion and the serious lack of legal protection for unborn life can easily annoy people…Soon all these uncomfortable truths are branded as loveless allegations”, according to Kees van der Staaij, the group chairman of the SGP (Social Reformed Party) (10).

But love doesn’t mean that you never say anything. For sometimes the truth must be told, even if it is confrontational, and you should not avoid confrontation. Of course it is important that people tell the truth at a proper moment. First of all one can think of exposing a problem with which he is struggling and which he did not dare to tell another out of shame. People can circumvent a painful truth for some time, but not avoid it endlessly. Also within a relationship it is sometimes necessary to tell the truth, because it can liberate from unfair relations. It is also important, if it’s possible, to have a good relationship with the other person, so that he understands your intentions better and becomes more open to your criticism when it’s about an admonishment for example. Sometimes it is necessary to tell the truth in order to warn the other person for a certain danger.

“If substantial differences come to light about good and evil, about justice and injustice, about truth and lie, then the truth will be intolerant towards lies and error, then the truth must be told, not arrogantly and pedantically, but with wisdom, respect and love, so not with fanaticism” (10). We therefore should be afraid of relativizing the truth, because if the truth is clouded, sooner or later people will also be oppressed (10).

So love may imply that you cannot and should not approve of everything that the other person does. For you cannot say: Because God is love, I should approve of whatever you do (using drugs, smoking, going to the whores, doing occult games, homosexual relationships), so just go ahead. That is not love but rather indifference and fake-tolerance. Under the guise of love, the truth can be easily violated. Love is that you have the courage to say that wrong is wrong and not just cover it up with the ‘cloak of love’, and that you dare to tell the truth, because God’s truth makes us free and happy. By the way, we always have to honestly verify whether our view (‘truth’) is indeed in agreement with what God’s Word says, and to be open for possible correction.

8. True or false unity?

The relation between love and truth can be very topical with regard to e.g. ecclesial unity. In various churches there can be such major and perhaps irreconcilable differences of views about what the Bible means (Should women have an office in church? Should we allow homosexual relationships etc.), that the question can or should be asked whether or not people will or should stay together for the sake of love. Where is the line? We thereby need to make a distinction between love for the truth itself on the one hand, and love for people on the other hand, but we have to be take both into account.

When it comes down to the truth, of course it is good to have an honest exchange of views on the basis of arguments. There is nothing wrong with that, because in that way a possible change of thoughts can happen. But we should watch out for making emotions, personal conceptions and relationships more important than truth, and by a verbal strategy diverting the attention from the truth claim (6). Or that people think that unity is more important than truth.
If an organizational unit is not based on spiritual unity, then there is a danger of keeping up a fake unity or even creating a false unity. Unity without truth is in essence a sham.

So people shouldn't cherish unity under the guise of love for each other (‘holding each other’) at the expense of the truth, but cherish the truth for the sake of love (both for the truth itself and for men). If a church doesn’t testify the truth (Jn 18:37) but for the sake of ‘mutual love’ (as important as that is in itself) and under the pressure of the zeitgeist justify things that aren't right, the church as a pillar of truth will make itself unreliable.

Song of Wim Bevelander (1):

He who loves without truth, will be deceived.

For without truth you lose everything;

Truth without love causes damage;

But truth with love sets you free from bondage

……..of sin

9. Conclusion

We have seen that God’s love and truth belong together inseparably. Love is the motive for truth. God is love and He gave His truth (His Word, His Son and His Spirit) for us, so that we may have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10). If we as children of God, out of love for God, hold on to the truth and obey God’s commandments and life precepts (amongst others in Jn 14:15 and 21; 15:10), we will experience more of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. And because the Holy Spirit is not only the Spirit of love, we will also experience more love, not only for God Himself, but also for our neighbor and for God’s creation. And in this way a process will start in which God’s love is realized by His truth in humans who love God, their neighbors and creation, and in that way become image bearers of God Himself, Who is the source. And the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will guide us into all truth (Jn 16:13).

So love is not only the motive for truth but it’s also the result of holding on to the truth of God. Paul says in 1 Tim 1:5: “But the goal (result) of our instruction (truth) is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith”.
Or pay attention to the order in 1 Pet. 1:22: “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,.”. Again truth comes first and it changes the soul that will experience more love. That’s why it is so harmful when certain behaviors, partly under pressure of the anti-biblical zeitgeist, are tolerated and justified, which is in conflict with God’s Word.

The Lord wants to show us that in our lives the truth of God and obeying His commandments must go before everything else. Then truth and love will enter our lives by the Holy Spirit. They do not contradict each other nor can they do without each other. That’s always a love according to the truth that God has given to us in His Word.

Piet Guijt, februari 2020
Translation: Ursula Moestapa

 

 

Literature
Wim Bevelander: Liefde en Waarheid (Love and truth)
Source: Bron:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcCvVWgwK-o
Roy Davison, De liefde tot de waarheid hebben zij niet aanvaard! (They did not receive the love of the truth!) Source: http://gemeente-van-christus.org/Preken/Davison/Roy/051-LiefdeTotDeWaarheid.html
Piet Guijt, De waarheid zal u vrijmaken. (The truth shall set you free) In: Promise Magazine, January 2019.
In His Love – Liefde en Waarheid. (Love and truth) Source: http://www.geloofinjezus.nl/wordpress/training-heilige-geest/ training/in-his-love-liefde-en-waarheid/
Christian Match, Liefde en waarheid. Source: https://www.christianmatch.nl/forum/forum_posts.php?tId=3076FILIA110
John Piper, Koester de waarheid vanwege de liefde. (Cherish the truth for the sake of love)
Source: https://godgericht.nl/artikel/koester-de-waarheid-vanwege-de-liefde/
van Ruitenburg, Liefde voor de waarheid.(Love for the truth) Source: https://www.digibron.nl/search/detail/97bf1e82df5aa25f6762efb7450d38ca/liefde-voor-de-waarheid
Rutten, Liefde en waarheid (1). (Love and truth (1) Source: https://gjerutten.blogspot.com/2017/07/waarheid-en-liefde.html
Rutten, Liefde en waarheid (2). (Love and truth (2) Source: https://gjerutten.blogspot.com/2017/07/liefde-en-waarheid-2.html
G. van der Staaij, Eenheid, waarheid en liefde.(Unity, truth and love) Toespraak in de Waalse Kerk in Den Haag op 16-11-2010 (Speech at the Waalse kerk (Church) in The Hague on 16th November 2010)
Source: https://www.rd.nl/opinie/eenheid-waarheid-en-liefde-1.578346
11. J.R. Visser, Spreek in liefde de waarheid. Evangelie voor elke dag. Dagelijkse meditaties en artikelen. (Speak the truth in love. Gospel for every day. Daily meditations and articles.) Source:https://www.evangelie-voor-elke-dag.nl/news/zondag-43-spreek-in-liefde-de-waarheid/

 

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