Truth and boldness. Love and grace. Social media alone is evidence that our world is in desperate need of both. Too many posts to count are replete with strong opinions, fruitless rhetoric, and outright hate. Scrolling Facebook this weekend, I found myself experiencing the heaviness of strong emotions. And I began to wonder: As a follower of Christ, what does it really look like to stand for truth while showing love? How do I respond with love to those who support something I don’t? How do I hold both grace and truth without compromising either?
Throughout the weekend I prayed for God to show me these answers. I prayed that He would allow the Holy Spirit to govern my heart and mind and that He would sanctify me with His truth, which is His word.
Though I’m about as pro-life as they come and rejoice greatly with the Supreme Court decision made on Friday, I began to experience an extra measure of compassion in my spirit for those who feel the opposite- especially for those who who are pregnant and scared; those who if given the opportunity would choose abortion. Though my conviction on the issue did not waver, my heart seemed to soften.
God continued to answer my prayer in Sunday School. Though we were looking at a verse in 2 Timothy 3, my eyes were drawn to chapter 2 verses 23-25:
“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”
There it was. We are called to utilize wisdom and self-control in order to abstain from controversies that breed arguments. And yet, when we do speak the truth we are to do it with kindness, patience, and gentleness. Ahhh, of course- the fruit of the Spirit. In the midst of anger, hatred, and fear, we are to display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). As much as we like to believe we can conjure up these qualities in our own power, we undoubtedly come up short. Instead, these fruits are produced in increasing measure through the Spirit as we abide in Christ.
Make no mistake: God’s Word will stand forever, and I pray we will boldly proclaim its truth. But speaking truth without love only results in the worthlessness of a clanging cymbal or a resounding gong (1 Corinthians 13:1). It is only with the fruit of the Spirit that we are able to effectively point others to the hope of Christ; to the very One who is himself full of grace and truth.