Originally posted on my blog unmaskedtheologian.wordpress.com 2/22/15
We have established that truth is intangible. God is responsible for preserving truth. We are sanctified by His Truth. John 17.17 Truth is an important aspect of our life because truth points us to God. His communication with us is evidence of His love, especially the Revelation of Jesus. John 3.16; I John 3.16, 4.9, 4.16; Ephesians 5.1,2 Hebrews 1.3 There is no command to love truth, yet there is a command to love God, and people. Matthew 22.36-40 Unless of course, as pointed out by someone, you consider Jesus. Jesus is truth. John 14.6 This truth is really not an issue. We should all love Jesus. He has given us sufficient reason to love Him. Jesus is God, and loving Him is also a command. Is the statement to love people more than truth all encompassing? Does it apply in every situation with every person? I believe so.
Truth is better received when it is spoken in love. If we approach people (and I have) with the idea that we are right, always right, and right about everything; they will not listen. They will hear what we say, but our arrogance will speak louder that any truth that we might offer. Some of the truth that we insist on forcing upon people can be subjective. Some of the issues we fight about are unclear, and if we claim to know everything and that we are certain of everything than we are only exposing our arrogance. One thing we can be certain about is the love of God displayed through the atoning work of Christ. The cross of Christ is a truth that we can and must stand for. This is the truth that we must start with, but our communication, life, and love must line up with the message.
If we love truth more than people we will hammer them over the head with it, and become frustrated and angry as they do not respond to it. We are not called to hammer the people with truth. We are called to speak the truth in love, and exemplify truth with our lives. John 15.7-14; John 17.19-23 People do not respond well as they are hammered over the head with truth. Trust me, I know. The most important thing for us to do is pray. Pray for those whom God will allow us to minister to. Pray that God will soften their heart in preparation for truth. Paul usually addressed his readers in love always telling them that he thanked God for them; he always desired that God would increase their love, understanding, mercy and knowledge. I am amazed at how Paul always thanked God for the people who he ministered to. This is a testimony for us; we should thank God for the people in our lives, all of them, even the difficult ones. In fact, in honesty, at times I am difficult to get along with. Perhaps I should thank God for the people who tolerate me and love me despite my difficult personality. It is important for us to be honest about our personality so we can know what changes we need to make in order for use to become more like Christ.
Recently, I heard someone say, “we should listen in order to understand, not to respond.” I cannot recall who said it. We need to be better listeners. What does this mean? We shouldn’t listen to others while thinking about all the things that we disagree about. Waiting in anticipation for them to stop talking so we can teach them what is really true and right. Have you ever been there? Surely I am not the only one who faces this struggle. If we love truth more than people we will not be good listeners. Active listening is a skill and it takes practice. However, when we take the time to listen to people we are demonstrating a willingness to learn about them, their concerns, what they actually believe, and how they feel. This is an opportunity to get to know people, and as we learn about them we may realize that they know more truth than we realize and we don’t have to TEACH them anything. It is possible that God is already doing a work in their lives. We are believer priests and we do have an anointing from the Spirit. I John 2.27 God can teach people things without using us. I am not minimizing the importance of teachers, evangelists, and pastors. Surely, their ministry includes edification, but even teachers and pastors must consistently and earnestly pray for and love their flock. It would be unwise for a pastor or teacher to assume that people do not have the capacity to learn from some other source. We do not have to teach people everything we know, all of the time. I am learning this.
Paul tells the churches how he wept night and day for them. He spent hours in prayer over people. If we love truth more than people our eyes will be dry and we will never pray enough. A reality about myself that reveals apathy. Loving people more than truth will not be easy because we are self-centered. We fight against our own pride and our own idolatrous need to be right about everything. When we get close to Christ, our thoughts, motives, and actions will change. John 15