Tricky Topics in the Bible

What’s Greater: Love or Truth?

Sounds like a trick question, doesn’t it. What’s greater: love or truth? They are both important, but does one win out over the other, when we consider what’s ultimately more important? Let me give you a sample scenario to demonstrate a situation where this might be a question we consider.

Let’s say that one of your (close) friends is doing something she shouldn’t. What do you do? If you tell her that she’s wrong, she might get mad at you and feel like you’re not being loving. She might not want to be friends anymore. She might feel hurt and rejected. But, if you say nothing, wouldn’t that be like letting her approach a dangerous cliff with no warning? Wouldn’t it be to her ultimate benefit for you to caution her against doing something that might harm her? In the end, she will probably thank you for it, right?

Wait: let’s say that you are also aware that the thing she is doing is something that she might regard as a mere difference of opinion. She might not understand that you are trying to warn her, but think, “What’s so wrong with what I’m doing? Why can’t you accept my way of life, even if you disagree with it? Why can’t we agree to disagree, and still be friends? Better yet, if you know that this is a touchy subject for me, why bring it up in the first place, since that might damage our relationship? Isn’t our RELATIONSHIP what’s most important to you? Why would you say things that would put that in jeopardy? Why can’t you just LOVE me?” Hmm.

Well, what does the BIBLE have to say about it? We could discuss opinions all day long, but it’s the word of God that has the final say. And let’s not just discuss what we THINK the Bible says, but let’s take the time to look at what it ACTUALLY says.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.'” John 14:6-7

Jesus IS the truth. These verses talk about KNOWING Who He IS. Jesus doesn’t just speak truth, HE IS TRUTH. If Jesus is eternally existent (He is), then we know that He has always BEEN truth, and will always BE truth. It is part of His nature, His divine essence. We cannot extricate truth from His nature, as if it were merely a function of what He does. No, truth is Who He IS. That puts truth on a pretty high pedestal, doesn’t it?

Let’s look at another verse.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7

God IS love. Here we see that love is part of God’s NATURE. Jesus is God, so we know that this verse is talking about Jesus, as well. God doesn’t just love us, He IS love. He has always BEEN love, and will always BE love.  It is part of His nature, His divine essence.

To argue over what aspect of God’s divine nature is greater than another aspect of God’s divine nature is absurd. No facet of His nature is greater than another, since it comprises Who He IS. You cannot separate Him into lesser and greater parts. He is ALL great.

But wait, isn’t there a verse that says that love is greater than EVERYTHING? Let’s take a look.

“And now abide faith, hope love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

What is being compared here? Is love being compared to truth? No, it is not. Love is being compared to FAITH, and HOPE. Why is love greater than faith and hope? Well, a reading of chapters 12 to 14 of 1 Corinthians will instruct us. One day, there will come a time when we will no longer need faith or hope. One day, everything we have had faith for, and everything we have hoped for, WE WILL HAVE (as true believers in Christ). We will no longer need to have faith for those things that we will at that time see right in front of us. We will no longer have to hope for those things that we will at that time have. Faith and hope will not be necessary. But love will always remain. JUST LIKE TRUTH. Truth will never cease to exist, either. Because they find their origin in God Himself, truth and love will always BE.  Truth is not greater than love, neither is love greater than truth. They are BOTH equally great.

So, going back to our scenario that was mentioned at the beginning, what should you do when you see a close friend of yours going the wrong direction?

“…but, speaking the truth in love…” Ephesians 4:15a

The answer isn’t an either/or answer. It is a both/and answer. We must do BOTH things. We must tell people the truth. And we must love them. Telling others the truth demonstrates THAT we love them. If we didn’t care, we would just let them jump off a cliff, right? But because we LOVE them, we tell them the TRUTH.

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “What’s Greater: Love or Truth?

  1. Dear Jessica,
    Today, as I was waiting in front of the Asylum office for many hours (surrounded by many Syrian refugees), I’ve pondered the above question which you mentioned on this post.

    What do you think Jessica, is the word “love” misrepresented among Christians? Some say as if Christian love=Judge not attitude.

    Then I thought of the crucified Jesus Christ. I thought he must be the perfect embodiment of both “love” and “truth”. In Him, the two has become one.

    So, the more His spirit fill our inner sanctum, the more the two starts to manifest itself beautifully.

    I love the way you explain to us, Jessica. I love the way you show your thought-process in such a clear way!

    Kinuko

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “He must be the perfect embodiment of both “love” and “truth”. In Him, the two has become one.”
      Yes, Kinuko, I agree with you, but with one minor adjustment: that in the Son of God, the two have ALWAYS been one, from eternity, since they are part of His nature, and His nature doesn’t change.
      And you are so right, that “the more His spirit fill our inner sanctum, the more the two starts to manifest itself beautifully.” How beautifully you express this! As we become more like Christ, the more we will manifest both qualities in our lives. Amen!
      Jessica

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dearest Sister Jessica,

    Quite a topic you have here! I like what you have to say. I think there is much truth in it. I will read the article more in-depth later, Lord be willing. But might I add one thing? I though over the question and your arguments and I thought, “I think love is ‘more important’ (in a sense), because, without love, the truth does little to no good.” I have heard it told about two missionaries to two different people. The first missionary fit right in with the culture. He ate the food, drank the drinks, did the customs, etc. He was almost equal to the genuine people! But he did not truly love the people. The second missionary was not good for the culture. He had stomach fits because of the food. He didn’t like the taste of many things on the menu. He was clumsy with the customs. Etc. But he had a heavy heart and burden for the people. He truly loved them. Whose ministry do you think prospered? It was the second’s. Because the people saw his intense love and were drawn to it. In both cases, the truth was preached, but only in one did it truly prosper. This is not to say that preaching the truth is useless without love or that we can somehow love apart from truth. This is simply to say that if you are telling the Truth to people, whoever it may be, they must first see your intense love and passion for them. Or else they may never hear you and their hearts will be hardened. I also speak this from personal experience.

    Thank you for this article and for your time and passion with these issues! I love you, Sister Jessica. May God work fervently in each of our lives to win a dying and lost world for Jesus.

    And please remember that half the world goes to bed with empty stomachs and broken hearts. Let us pray and do what we can to reach them…..

    Your little sister in Christ,
    Kegan Cook

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your reply, Kegan, and especially for sharing that story with us! You are right, that saying the truth, without having love for other people, probably won’t have much impact on them–what good does it do to tell people, “Be warm and filled with food,” if we don’t literally clothe and feed them–faith without works is dead; and similarly, saying that we love people without actually proving it by our deeds, is empty words. (Though I think of Jonah preaching to the Ninevites that they needed to repent or be destroyed–Jonah didn’t even LIKE the Ninevites, much less love them, but they responded to his message with sincerity. Perhaps they sensed the love of GOD for them, when they saw His willingness to forgive them of their wickedness if they repented.)
      Conversely, loving people without telling them the truth isn’t really love. If we care for others’ needs and are compassionate for their sufferings, but never tell them that they are headed for hell because of sin, and that they need to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior to be saved, we’re really not doing them any favors. Sure, they’ll have their earthly needs cared for, but they will suffer an ETERNITY in hell. Why? Because we were too afraid to just come out and say they truth.
      So, my point is: neither truth nor love is greater or more important than the other. They are BOTH great, and they are BOTH important, and they are BOTH absolutely necessary. One without the other is meaningless. And since God’s nature itself is composed of both truth and love, we can know that they will both always exist in Him, just as they have always existed in Him, in PERFECT HARMONY. And I think that must be the goal of our lives: to imitate Christ by living out both love and truth in perfect harmony.
      Thanks, and I always love to hear your comments,
      Jessica

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “Conversely, loving people without telling them the truth isn’t really love. If we care for others’ needs and are compassionate for their sufferings, but never tell them that they are headed for hell because of sin, and that they need to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior to be saved, we’re really not doing them any favors. Sure, they’ll have their earthly needs cared for, but they will suffer an ETERNITY in hell. Why? Because we were too afraid to just come out and say they truth.”

        Jessica, the above point is vital. Thank you for mentioning this!

        p.s. Thank you so much for your minor correction. Yes, you are right that in the Son of God, the two have ALWAYS been one, from eternity, since they are part of His nature, and His nature doesn’t change. Amen.
        Kinuko

        Like

      2. Dearest Sister Jessica,

        I completely agree. 🙂 I just thought this might be a neat addition to your point. K. P. Yohannan made a similar point.

        Gospel For Asia was helping people after the Indian Sunami. They offered physical provisions to the people as well as the Gospel message. Secular news organizations flew into a frenzy over it. One lady called him demanding to know why they were “inflicting”* these poor, suffering people with the Gospel message “when they were already suffering enough.” K. P. Yohannan replied cooly, “Ma’am, let’s say I am a Psychiatrist and you are my patient. You have all these problems and are desperate. But I look at you and think, ‘Oh! This poor woman is so messed up with so many problems!’ I say to you, “Ma’am, you go home and get better and then come back to me, and I will help you.’ ” There was silence. He went on to tell about how many of the indian people refused the physical provisions. Upon pressing, they found out that the people were planning on killing their children and committing suicide because they were so hopeless. Then, the Gospel for Asia people would give them the Gospel message and the family would come to Christ. Afterwards, the family would accept the physical provisions, because now they had hope. His point was that giving worldly things means very little and can be fruitless. Without the Gospel it is all hopeless. True love is telling them that there is hope to believe in. 🙂

        Your little sister,
        Kegan Cook

        *Words in quotations are my own, not direct quotes.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks, Kegan! Yes, it was a neat addition to my point. I especially liked what you shared in this particular comment. I agree that we need to give people not just food and clothing, but HOPE, as well. The gospel is the message of hope, and whether people realize it or not, they NEED to hear this message–their eternal well-being depends on it! And, like was pointed out in your comment, having hope for eternity gives them something to live for TODAY.

        Going back to our earlier discussion: You know, certain people at one time in my life attempted to tell me that I was wrong about something I was doing. One of those people told me something that I think was probably true, and yet this person did not take the time to truly understand my predicament, and did not sympathize with the difficulty and pain of what I was experiencing. It has taken me a long time to smooth out my feelings toward this person. I have felt that if this person had been compassionate regarding my situation, that our relationship would have been closer, and that maybe I would have been more likely to listen.

        However, I recognize that sometimes our perception of what is “loving” varies from person to person, and from circumstance to circumstance. What feels un-loving to one person, might feel loving to another person. One person might feel that they are being as loving as they can be, while the person on the receiving end might not feel that at all. It can be so subjective! Our own feeling aren’t usually a good gauge to use when deciding if someone is being loving, or not. Perhaps the other person has truly pure and good motives, and we are just blinded by our emotions.

        I truly appreciate you as a person, Kegan! Keep on learning, and keep on sharing what you are learning with us! You are such an important part of our fellowship.
        Jessica

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Dearest Sister Jessica,

        Thank you for sharing. You are very correct! Not to mention times when we are taken the wrong way. When we mean one thing, but they hear another. It is complicated! That is why it is comforting to know we are not the power behind it and that God lives and works in ways unseen. ^~^ May God ever bless you and continue to work in your life! In Jesus’ name, amen.

        Your little sister,
        Kegan Cook

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you ,Kegan for sharing this story. It is moving. I feel that everyone (including us )are starving for love.Love can open other’s hearts even when ‘righteous thing’ can not. God is love.
      May God keep you always,for your passion for Christ and destitudes in this world.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Sometimes I feel that we do’nt have so much to be able to do to help friends for preventing her falling to danger. If my friends-especially christian friends do wrong,surely I warn her ant try to stop her doing,but if she kept on refusing me,all I can do would be just to pray for her at last. Maybe I can talk with another friends about her to ask prayers.Only God can be her help.Wherever she fall, He can find her.I hope His mercy.

    Family and friends are gift from God. To let us learn how to love each other.And difficulties in life maybe lessons for us to seek truth.

    ‘Love covers a multitude of sins’. I like this bible verse.
    Jessica, your words sound always true.I feel that your many experiences on your life journey are there behind each articles. God bless you,and keep on writing!

    Sanae

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’re right about that, Sanae.
      We can warn others, but that doesn’t mean they will listen. I think of the people that warned me at a certain time in my life that I shouldn’t do something, and at that time, I didn’t listen. I haven’t seen some of those people for years, and they probably wonder whether or not I ever repented, and if their words had any impact on me at all. Well, they did. They may not have realized it, but their words stuck in my heart; years later, I still remember what they said to me, and I greatly appreciate their courage and concern for me as shown in their willingness to tell me the truth in a loving way. God certainly did use them to help me, and I hope that one day I will be able to tell them that. However, my future wasn’t all up to them, was it. God worked in my life in various ways to get me to turn back to to Him.
      I also agree with your comment that people are starving for love. I don’t want to de-emphasize love at all! Like they say: “We don’t care how much others KNOW, until we know how much they CARE.” If I felt that someone was just telling me the truth to feel like they had done their duty by me, but felt that they didn’t really care for me as a person, or care what I was going through, I would probably resent it. I would prefer to have BOTH–I know that I need people to tell me the truth, and I appreciate it when they do, but I also need people to care about me as a person. And besides, if they don’t really care for me as a person, they probably haven’t taken the time to understand my situation very well, and maybe their words of “truth” will be misplaced and misapplied. That is why I keep reiterating that we need BOTH truth and love working together in perfect harmony.
      I always enjoy reading your comments. You offer deep insights to our conversations. Thank you, Sanae!
      Jessica

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I believe that love and truth go hand in hand. It matters how we present it. Sometimes more firm, in other cases more soft. But we should not dilute truth. We should be bold and courageous.
    One of my friends from another province started wear head covering during church service. Her parents are from Hong-Kong. She is Chinese. I didn’t recognize her at first. She wears infinity scarves. Two people started covering in past year. Such a blessing,
    Irina

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Irina, for your kind response!
      I agree with you that love and truth go hand in hand, and that sometimes we must be more firm, and at other times, more soft, but we should never dilute truth. Thank you for sharing that with us!
      I’m so, so glad to hear about your friend who started to headcover! I kinda feel jealous, like, when is someone from MY church going to start covering, too? Ha, ha. Well, I’m so happy to hear that two people started to cover in your church–that’s wonderful! It must be in part because of your brave and gentle testimony.
      Jessica

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s