There’s been a lot of talk going around about love and grace in the Christian community. Love, grace, justice, and equality for all. These are all good words, and they have their place in our discourses of today. We need to love God and love our neighbor, as we love ourselves. And when we do those two things, we will act justly towards others and treat them equally well. (Matthew 22:37-40) That is not something that needs to be legislated! If we love like God, it covers the whole gamut of those issues we face in the world and the church today.
Yet, one word that is often missing or has been omitted when talking about love is the word repentance. More specifically, many people do not seem to want to talk about repentance from wrong-doing or sin, even though repentance is the key to forgiveness of sins. (Acts 2:38) They do not want to talk about the consequences of sin either. Yet, it is because of sin why God had to die for us. It is the consequence of our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross over 2,000 years ago.
Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His only son to save the whole world. (John 3:16) Jesus paid it all, so that all who earnestly repent of their sins may come to the table and feast of His love. Yet, we abuse God’s love and grace, when we continue in our sin or tell our brother or sister that it’s okay to sin. We approach the throne of grace and come to the Lord’s table with “blood” on our hands and wonder why many of us are sick and dying. (1 Corinthians 11: 27-32) We spill Jesus’ blood all over again, when we acknowledge Him as our Savior and Lord, but continue to live sinful lives.
Make no mistake, God is not be mocked (Galatians 6:7), He sees everyone, everywhere. Yes, God will welcome the sinner with open arms, but God requires sinners to repent in order to have abundant life in Him. When Jesus saved the woman caught in adultery from a certain death by stoning, He told her to go and sin no more. (John 8:10-12) Why? Because sin leads to death, and sin is not God’s will for His people. Sin is what got us into to the mess we are in today, starting with Adam and Eve. And purposely or continually living in sin will lead to our certain destruction.
So, if you really love someone, you will not condone their sin, but encourage them to stop sinning and seek to live a righteous life. Because you love, you will speak the truth, you will gently correct, you will tell your brother, sister, mother, child, friend when they are going the wrong way in order to save their lives. Your silence is not golden! (Ephesians 4:15)
And you should expect the same. Just because you love someone does not mean you turn a blind eye or celebrate them doing things that will ultimately destroy them. You don’t tell them to keep doing what they’re doing (e.g. “Do you, as long as you’re not hurting anyone”), if you know that what they’re doing is not good. If you truly love people like you say you do, you will do your best to help them make the right choices, to steer them the right way, to keep them out of hell, to bring them to heaven with you. (Jude 23)
What if someone dies in their sin, thinking that the way they were living was okay, because you accepted and celebrated their sinful lifestyle while they were alive? Do you not think they would be angry at you for not telling them the truth (for not trying to help them get out of their mess), which consequently kept them believing a lie, which resulted in their eternal doom? For sure, their blood would be on your hands. (Ezekiel 3:18)
True love requires courage to discipline, courage to speak the truth; as parents who discipline their children and friends who tell their friends when they are going the wrong way. They do it not to punish, offend, or belittle them; they do it because they truly love them. In the same way, God loves His children, and so He disciplines them when they are going the wrong way. If He did not discipline or correct them, that would mean He did not love or care about them. (Job 5: 17-18, Rev. 3:19)
So, are you afraid that people will be offended if you tell them the truth? Chances are they are not going to like it, and they may decide they don’t want to be your friend or have anything to do with you anymore. Correction and discipline can be hard to take, but they are necessary for growth; and the end results are usually good. (Hebrews 12:1-11) Be willing to take the chance to speak the truth and to advise those living in sin to repent, because you love.