Truth in Love
By Lalith Mendis
"Speak the truth in love" is the scriptural injunction (Ephesians 4:15). As easy as it seems we often see how difficult it is to obtain this balance. We so often become censorious or compromising. Some "contend for the faith" as they call it, quoting Jude 3, with bared fangs and upraised paws. The Church is more wounded by the fiery oral darts of her own members than by those of Satan. Once again the Lord is wounded in the house of His beloved.
While many are zealous for the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), too few seem to pay heed to the great commandment (John 13:34). How rare and refreshing is the breeze of a loving Christian. Beloved brethren, the only basis for the great commission is the great commandment.
Must our brother have the exact theological hue we have before we could love him? Should not lack of love in the Body of Christ hurt us very deeply as it hurts the Lord? In our struggle to climb to the top, to sit on the highest ecclesiastical throne, how many of our brethren do we trample or tread on? Is this the mind of Christ?
Philippians 2:1-5 says: "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than himself. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
Shall we daily count that which is better in my brotherís assembly than my own? Can we continue anymore shooting down our fellow soldiers? Let us repent from our exclusivistic egoism. What tanks, torpedoes and tuskers (having tusks) fail to achieve, tears may.
Nor am I making a case for love without cost or cause. Rebuke, correction and exhortation are necessary (Galatians 6:1,2). The purpose of rebuke must not be annihilation but rehabilitation. Recently a much wounded brother quipped, "Iíll rather deal with lions than with Christians."
A few examples are cited from Paulís contemporaries. They show us brotherly interaction in the early church.
Priscilla and Aquila
"Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles" (Romans 16:3,4).
Tryphena and Tryphosa
"Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa who labor in the Lord" (Romans 16:12).
"But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christís" (Philippians 2:19-21).
"Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants...Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation, because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me" (Philippians 2:25,29,30).
"For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother" (Philemon 7).
May we learn to speak more and more of other brethren and their works in the Lord, in love. We are co-builders of His Church. When we sing, "God is building a people of power...build Your Church, Lord," that refers to the entire Church of the Lord, and not only to my little plot. May the Lord enlarge our hearts in this crisis hour.
If we must fight, brethren, there is only one fight and one foe. "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses" (1 Timothy 6:12). Let us be instructed by William Booth:
"I saw with my youthful, uncorrupted Salvation eyes, that there could not be two standards for life and service--one for Paul and the martyrs and missionaries, and the other for leaders of Godís Army, past and present. Therefore, here was the standard for every soul of us, whether leaders or followers, whether marching at the head of Godís Armies or abiding in the trade and callings of everyday life. I saw it. I liked it. I embraced it in my inmost soul. It did not come to me in mournful, melancholy aspect. The consecrated life, with toils and tears and troubles and what else, matched my consecrated spirit. Was I not a soldier of the Cross, and ought I not to welcome a soldierís career?
"But if I could not become a minister, I could fight on in such a sphere as I occupied and with such means as I could scrape together. This was plainly my God-appointed task. I would do it. And I asked nothing higher and better than this. Let me fight for my God and the salvation of men. That will give me joy--that will be heaven for me. Fighting was what I wanted. Only let me have plenty of it."
Lalith Mendis is a minister of the Gospel in Sri Lanka.