Speaking the Truth in Love
The Apostle Paul told Timothy, "Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:2). Paul later said of himself, "Woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16). If you combine Matthew 28:18-19 and 1 Peter 2:9 you see that we all are required to teach the gospel to the lost.
But how do we ensure effectiveness? There is not a guarantee on that. Ultimately, we plant the seed but God gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). One thing we can do is be certain we are speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
If you look at the things we most often lie about, you see that, for the most part, we lie so people will not get offended. But it is still a lie.
If we change Biblical truth to appease the listener we have lied (Isaiah 30:8-14).
John 8:37 says the "truth will set us free." First, we must be uncompromising when we proclaim the truth of God's Word. However, we must be flexible concerning men's hearts. Matthew 7:12 says, "Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them." When we sit down to study with a prospect we must treat him with the same care and respect we would desire for ourselves.
Second, we must be persistent but patient. John 1:1-3 tells us that Jesus is the Word of God and Hebrews 13:8 adds that He is the "same yesterday, today and tomorrow." While the truth of Scripture never changes, our level of patience must continue to grow. Having someone overturn our core beliefs is a heart-wrenching process. When we study with someone we must be patient to allow them to go through the transformation and be understanding when it fails.
Third, we must be firm but factual. Our opinions and traditions should never dictate what we teach. Matthew 15:14 promises, "If the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."
Finally, we must hold the line but be helpful. The gospel is to win souls and not to win arguments. Ephesians 6:10-17 says we are in a spiritual war with Satan and his forces. We are not at war with the sinner, only the sin. He has a soul that needs love and guidance.
Published in The Old Paths Archive