Some medications come in a gel capsule. The advantage is that the medicine inside is released into the body gradually. This is important if the medicine is very potent. “Time released capsules” is the mantra. Truth is very potent and sometimes quite hard to take. The gel capsule of truth is love. According to the Apostle Paul, “speaking the truth in love” helps us to grow, to mature as Christ-followers (cf. Ephesians 4:15).
Under the guise of being “prophetic,” many Christian communicators—authors, bloggers, teachers, pastors, TV hotshots—rail against others. They denounce the rebel sinners of the culture and the (alleged) apostates from the faith. In a desire to unload the truth, these self-appointed dogmatists come across as down-right mean.
Sometimes I wonder if they speak the truth so others can meet Jesus and grow in knowledge or if they flame-throw the truth so others can know and feel that they are condemned by God. Paul had to school Timothy about his own attitude when he had to confront those who resist the truth and even get trapped in the snare of the devil. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:24-26). Not quarrelsome. Gentle. Sounds like shades of love.
I have on numerous occasions had to eat humble pie and confess to being a mouthy critic—prosecutor, jury, and judge of others who don’t have my orthodoxy and orthopraxy. I wonder if those of us who have been privileged to be called to communicate truth are the ones most liable to sin with our words by becoming angry zealots hurting others rather than helping them. Maybe the day we become God incarnate, we, too, can have our own version of Matthew 23.
Zealotry is on the rise. It has an appealing if not deceiving power. We can feel so truthful, so outraged, so righteous, so convinced we are on God’s side and God is on ours. We are the faithful remnant, the last of the defenders of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. And, by God, that’s what we are—saints!
by John Frye
Just a cup of cold water
Smashed into my face;
The zealous servant left me
With water, indeed,
And with bits of glass,
Blood and water mixed
Gushing from my mouth.
Truth without Love,
That’s the devil’s way.