Is there a way to demonstrate God’s love without compromising on His truth?
Scriptural truths are often twisted by the world to mean things entirely different from what they were originally intended for. Most of the time this is to satisfy a personal, political, or social agenda rather than to satisfy obedience to God.
For instance, the phrase “Paul became all thing to all people” is taken out of context from 1 Corinthians 9:22 to mean “Paul was tolerant.” It is a phrase that has become an excuse for Christians to shy away from accountability within the body of believers. Accountability, for those that do not know, is a form of Judgment. Many believers today would gasp and gawk at the thought of judgment because of the phrase “Judge not, lest ye be judged”-Matthew 7:1. Once again, something taken out of context.
So let’s break down these two scripture references before we move on.
All things to all people
Paul states this:
To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to men under the Law, [I became] as one under the Law, though not myself being under the Law, that I might win those under the Law. To those without (outside) law I became as one without law, not that I am without the law of God and lawless toward Him, but that I am [especially keeping] within and committed to the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. To the weak (wanting in discernment) I have become weak (wanting in discernment) that I might win the weak and overscrupulous. I have [in short] become all things to all men, that I might by all means (at all costs and in any and every way) save some [by winning them to faith in Jesus Christ]. – 1 Corinthians 9:20-22
Nowhere does Paul state “To the sinner I became a sinner.”
In short, Paul is merely suggesting that he humbled himself to the task of sharing the gospel that by all costs of his pride and his grasp of the gospel, he might be attractive on behalf of and attract people to Christ. Paul never suggests that it is ok to look like a sinner in order to win them to Jesus. How would that make sense anyway?
A practical example is: If a sales rep wants you to buy a car, they would not advertise a boat to you.
If this doesn’t sit well with you, read 1 Corinthians 10 and see how Paul instructs people how to live.
Judge not lest ye be judged
What it actually says:
Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you. – Matthew 7:1-2
This is a warning about negativity, not about accountability. For how can Jesus say in one breath “do not judge”in chapter 7 and then in Chapter 18 say
If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word may be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Matthew 18:15-17
For how can Jesus say in one breath “do not judge”in chapter 7 and then in Chapter 18 say “show him his fault” and be consistent?
The audiences for each command were different.
“Do not judge” was meant as a warning not to judge non-believers because when holding others to a standard they don’t believe in, they will merely retaliate with the same measure of judgment as they feel was offered to them. A true believer sees correction as something positive, something beneficial to their walk with Christ and therefore, even though it is “judgment” being pronounced on their incorrect actions, it is seen as holding the body accountable for actions or words that could reflect poorly on the whole, or on Christ. So “show him his fault” was an instruction for how to deal with matters between believers.
Logically, if Person A believes in God and Person B does not, then it is considered insanity for either to have expectations for one another based on their beliefs.
Therefore, with the understanding that scripture does not condemn the judgment of sin but warns against personally judging non-believers (when only God has that right), we can understand that when Paul set out to win souls to the Kingdom of God, He did not do so with the banner of tolerance, or worldly love. He did so under the banner of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, with the sole purpose of sharing the gospel of Christ, in order that others might come to know the nature and Character of their creator. He never set out to be accepted by the world. In fact, Paul spent many of his ministry years in prison. Several of his letters were written from his jail cell. How did he get there, you ask?
Preaching the gospel.
Humanitarian work and social justice were results of his primary purpose: preaching the gospel, but they never superseded it. What that means is that Paul was never concerned about whether he hurt people’s feelings by telling the truth. In fact, many of his apologies were to fellow believers when he admonished them too sternly. He apologized for shortcomings, for dealing harshly with anyone, but never for sharing the truth.
In the 21st century, this world has become more concerned about whether or not someone’s feelings might get hurt, than sharing the truth.
Another practical example of that would be if a doctor found out that their patient had cancer and were going to die in 6 months. Luckily, there is a cure for this cancer but the patient must request medical treatment as it legally cannot be forced upon them. So, rather than telling the patient that they are sick and there is a cure for it, the doctor says “well you’re sick but it should take care of itself.”
That is the picture of tolerance. Tolerance disguises itself as love, when it is merely passive aggressive hatred.
Love offers a solution. Tolerance masks the problem.
Eloquently put by writer Lacey Wofford,
“Love isn’t tolerance. It’s acceptance of the person in their struggle against a force that’s determined to kill them.”
Love is motivated by life and the end result is also life. Even tough [true] love is motivated by life. It may seem harsh, it may seem unfair, but at the end of the day, tough love is just a louder expression of a simple love that was previously rejected in favor of death.
Tolerance is motivated by the lie that “the problem will take care of itself/someone else will deal with it.” Tolerance is akin to indifference, turning a blind eye, and being lukewarm.
As Christians we should not desire to have God spew us out of His mouth in exchange for protecting someone’s feelings against the truth.
So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth! – Revelation 3:16
So how do we love someone without compromising truth? We learn humility. Humility is the key to loving someone regardless of the struggles they face. Humility is what God desires of us. Humility reminds us that we too were once in sin, once lost but are now found. Humility reminds us that GOD is more important than anything this world could ever offer us. Humility keeps our own desires in check so that we can do the will of God and do so obediently. Humility is what undergirds perfect love.
Humility is the key, not tolerance.