One of our theme verses at Graceway is John 13:35: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
This new “commandment” is stated as an imperative, a direct order. But in reality, it’s simply a logical response to the love of Christ for us. Christ’s summary of the law in the two greatest commands (“Love God. Love your neighbour.”) also reflects the connection between the love of God and the love of people. I John 3-4 unpacks this principle more extensively.
Over the next few weeks, I’d like us to consider the implications of the phrase that we’re considering our Passion Statement: Loving Truth. Loving Others. Four simple words. A lifetime of powerful and convicting application. Application that is only possible by God’s grace and the heart-molding work of the Holy Spirit.
The phrase, loving truth, emphasizes that we value doctrine and biblical accuracy. Truth about God is the most important category of truth in the universe. If we get it wrong, we get life wrong. We are stewards of the Truth that God has given us in inspired scripture. If we don’t love truth and the God who revealed it, we will not defend it. We will not study or proclaim it. And we will lose our way, floundering through life along with the rest of lost humanity. So, by the grace of God, we desire to cherish truth, understanding that a love for truth will always be rewarded in the end. Ecc. 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
Loving others is a condensation of the commands to love our neighbour (Matt. 22:39) and love the brethren (I John 3:14, 16). This is very easy to say, yet so difficult to comprehend and obey. Especially, when we consider that Christ considered these characteristics to be heart motivations, not merely obedient actions out of fear of retribution. One of the greatest aids to our comprehension of these commands is to look to Christ and the model that he provided (Phil. 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.) In other words, look to Calvary for an understanding of love.
Together, the sentences indicate that love involves speaking the truth graciously to one another, even if it hurts. Note the absence of self. We speak truth out of love for others, never for our own gratification. Love requires humility.
The phrase order is important. If our love for others is not founded upon truth, we will simply be the “blind leading the blind” (Matt. 15:14). If our love for truth is not expressed out of love for others, we will be ineffective and misrepresent God’s grace. As Warren Wiersbe has put it: “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” (Eph. 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.).