I Hate You, But with Love
by Ryan Duncan
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. – James 1:26
I once heard a story of a certain churchwoman who loved to criticize others. Whether by gossiping, or by simply stating things up front, she had a reputation for being extremely hurtful. What made it worse though, was that she always disguised her remarks as helpful suggestions. She claimed to be speaking out of love, but all her words did were hurt and discourage. I bring this up because I feel that hurtful speech has become all too common in the Church.
Now that the internet has provided people with an easy way to speak while avoiding accountability, some Christians have taken the opportunity to post bitter messages and spiteful blogs online. Ironically, after spending an entire paragraph detailing why certain persons are going to Hell, many Christians finish up by saying “I’m just speaking the truth with love.” Popular writer Jon Acuff wrote an article about this two years ago on the CNN website, where he encouraged his Christian brothers and sisters to remember what Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 22,
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” – Matthew 22:34-40
Jesus called these two “The Greatest Commandments”, and it seems like they should be pretty easy to follow since you can’t love God if you’re not loving other people. It doesn’t stop there however, the gospel is overflowing with verses telling us how the only way to know God is by loving others, even our enemies.
“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” – 1 John 4:19-21
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1
Even the famous verse John 3:16 speaks of God’s compassion for everyone,
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Notice the verse says “the world” and not “certain Christians”. The wonderful, beautiful, message of the gospel is that God loves us and asks us to love in return. There is no room in the body of Christ for a cruel tongue, so guard your words, search your thoughts, and the truth really will be spoken with love.
Intersecting Faith and Life: Carefully examine your words (both online and off), are you truly speaking with love?
The Characters of Christmas is a podcast created to help you take a fresh look at the Christmas story by getting to know the minor characters that played a part in Jesus’ birth. It is the companion to Dan Darling's book "The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus."