Speaking the Truth in Love

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. --John 8:32

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. --Luke 6:27-28

My concordance of the Bible lists almost 300 biblical references to "truth" and more than 600 to "love." The God of the Bible is described as a God of truth, who hates lies and falsehood but delights in the truth and whose justice will vindicate the truth. More than 80 times in the gospels, Jesus precedes a teaching with the words "I tell you the truth," and says of himself, "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6).

The Holy Spirit is named the "Spirit of truth," and Jesus promises that the Spirit "will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). The biblical writers tell us simply that "God is love" (1 John 4:16). We are told that the greatest of all the gifts is love (1 Corinthians 13) and that without love everything else means nothing.

The two great commandments are to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40); and, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus extends the commandment of love to include even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). John says that whoever does not love does not know God and that the surest sign of Jesus' disciples is that they love one another.

Love and truth. Both come from the heart of God and are at the core of Jesus' teaching, but to put them together can be a difficult thing. Yet to unite truth and love in a world of hate and falsehood is as necessary as it is hard. Paul calls us to resist "the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming" by, instead, "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:14-15).

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