Tricky Topics in the Bible

Love and Truth: Quote from K.P. Yohannan

“The school program was starting to grow, but I confess that I struggled with how people might respond to our new initiative. You see, my mission has always been to preach the Gospel, establish local bodies and disciple those who come to know the Lord. Whereas others in the Body of Christ might be called to minister aid and comfort in this life, I knew that the eternal destiny of people was infinitely more important.

I don’t want to suggest that I am hard-hearted and have no concern for human suffering. Since its beginning, Gospel for Asia–supported missionaries have been agents of compassion and were among the first to help victims of catastrophes like the Orissa cyclone in 1999.

As Christians, I believe we must do all we can to alleviate pain and suffering in those around us. This sort of concern for others is a natural fruit of the Gospel. But we must never minister to someone’s physical needs at the expense of preaching Christ.

The Great Commission that Jesus gave literally means we share the Gospel of grace that the Lord Jesus Christ came, died and rose again to bring us salvation. This is fundamentally important…”

(from No Longer a Slumdog, by K.P. Yohannan, pages 88-89)

This is an insightful passage from a book I think we should all read (and one you can request for free from Gospel for Asia). Mr. Yohannan acknowledges the ABSOLUTE IMPORTANCE of preaching the gospel of Christ to people, of telling them the truth. As he says, “we must never minister to someone’s physical needs at the expense of preaching Christ.” I agree.

He goes on to describe a dream that he believes God gave him, and explains how this dream changed his perspective on social justice and compassion. In this dream, he believes that God showed him how “ministry to the children will be the bridge to help them experience the love of Christ” (page 90).

He concludes that “through this ‘bridge of hope,’ children would be given an education and, at the same time, be taught about the Lord. They would experience His love, and their families and communities would also hear that Jesus loves them” (page 91).

I think this demonstrates the point that I am trying to make (please read my article, “What’s Greater: Love or Truth?“). Neither love nor truth is more important than the other: we must have BOTH. K.P. Yohannan realized that showing people love would be a BRIDGE for them to be able to hear the gospel. They would get their physical needs met, while AT THE SAME TIME, hear the truth of the gospel message. It isn’t either/or, it’s both/and.

Perhaps some people who read my articles will think that since I don’t exalt love over truth, I must not think love is all that important. Maybe they think I’m being extreme, radical, hard-hearted, and heretical. Yet, I’m just trying to be logical, objective, and biblical. I think we often get into this touchy-feely, fuzzy-wuzzy way of thinking, where we can’t see how love and truth can coexist in perfect harmony. We see telling the truth as “being judgmental.” We want people to be sensitive to our feelings and to our situation, BEFORE we will allow them to tell us anything “hard to hear.” And certainly, we SHOULD be sensitive to others’ feelings and their situation. But, if we emphasize love over truth, and don’t tell those “hard to hear things,” we might NEVER have a chance. Developing relationships IS important; but, if we always wait to tell those “hard to hear things” until we’ve developed a close relationship, I worry that we might NEVER GET THE CHANCE. We don’t know where the future will lead. They could die tomorrow. We could die tomorrow.

K.P. Yohannan speaks mainly about the truth as related to the gospel message, which I agree is the most important message that people need to hear. But in this post, I am also talking about truth IN GENERAL. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” John 8:32. When we believe in the truth of the gospel, we are set free from the power of sin, and will live forever free in heaven with God after we die. Yet, I think it is also reasonable to say that “the truth shall make you free” in practical areas of our lives as well, as we submit to God’s truth. Jesus continues in this passage from the book of John: “…whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” John 8:34b. When we tell people the truth, like Jesus did (!), we are aiding them in being set free from the bondage of sin in their lives. People NEED for us to tell them the truth, whether they want to hear it or not. They might not always listen, but how do we know if maybe a seed of truth has been planted in their hearts, that will start to grow later on, as God continues to work in their lives?

In this post, I highlight the need for truth, and talk less about the need for love, not because one is more important than the other, but mainly because in our day, I have noted an unhealthy imbalance between the two, where love is mostly being emphasized and truth-telling is being demoted to the background. I am trying to correct that imbalance.

“When he [the devil] speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” John 8: 44b-47

Jesus told…the truth! He Who loves us so much, also tells us the truth. If a person doesn’t want to hear the truth, that is an indication of spiritual darkness in their hearts. But, the truth, if we will accept it, sets us free! How wonderful! How can we NOT tell people the truth, then? Don’t we want to help them be SET FREE?

Certainly, being loving increases our chance that they might listen to the truth. I don’t deny that AT ALL! I am ALL FOR helping other people, providing food for the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothes for the naked, etc. These things are SO IMPORTANT! My point is simply this: the truth has to be told by SOMEBODY–are we willing to be BOTH loving AND truthful? Can we put our fears aside (that others will hate us for telling them those “hard to hear things,” that they will never want to speak to us again, that we will be outcasts, that we will be persecuted, etc.), and can we ask the Lord for the wisdom and the COURAGE to be able to “speak the TRUTH in LOVE”? (Ephesians 4:15)


*Note: In the quotations above from the book No Longer a Slumdog, emphasis is mine.


4 thoughts on “Love and Truth: Quote from K.P. Yohannan

  1. How should be christian aid for needy people(especially in non christian countries ) is the issue that caused many discussions. Some people say that what people need is just aid not preaching,criticizes that many religious people try to use aid to spread their teaching.And other says that preaching with aid makes ‘rice-christians’ so easily.

    I think that what Mr.yohannan says is principle.At least we should not hide why we do this-because of gospel and love of God.

    I live in non-christian country. Here sometimes teaching gospel as absolute truth is regarded as arrogance of christians or fanatic.Maybe in other
    Asian countries,there same problem.(Except Philippine and East Timor.They are christian countries.Maybe Korea,30percent of population is christian.)

    So I think that christians who works for needy people in non christian countries need courage from God.In some countries,teaching gospel is often regarded as cultural invasion.

    The office of christian NGO called JIFH (Japan international food for the hungry) is near my house.
    I had bought their fairtrade products,donated before.
    I respect all christian workers who help needy people,telling love of God,spreading gospel all over the world.
    May God bless them to do His will on the earth.

    I am impressed that you deal with this sensitive issue with bravery.You always give us opportunities which we can seldom have in our daily life. To talk about sensitive,but important issue for believers.I appriciate it!


  2. Thanks Sanae!
    Actually, I don’t know if I really am that brave (but thank you for the compliment!). It’s easy to be brave sitting at my desk behind my computer screen. In the REAL WORLD, I am often a timid person, and talking to people I’ve never met about Jesus causes me to experience a case of nervous trembling. With people that I am getting to know on a more personal level, I usually try to find an opportunity to talk to them about Jesus at some point. But, just like anybody, I also worry about offending them. Perhaps my blog posts are one of the ways I am trying to encourage not only others, but my own self, to do the right things. Writing about these topics helps me to organize my thoughts and clarify what I believe.

    As far as telling people the gospel when administering aid, Kegan made an insightful comment about this in the other post (What’s Greater: Love or Truth). She mentioned something that K.P. Yohannan said about people needing to hear the message of hope for any lasting change to be made in their lives. Aid without hope will only satisfy temporarily, but giving people the message of the gospel, and hope, will give them something to live for, a future to truly look forward to!

    Also, Jesus wants us to tell others about Him. So, who cares what other well-meaning people may argue. We only have one Master, and that is our Lord and King, Christ Jesus. We must obey Him FIRST.

    Not too long ago, I heard about a police officer who lost his job because he witnessed to a man he was having to deal with. The man got offended and reported that the police officer had been “pushing his beliefs on him while doing his duties as an officer.” Well, the officer was terminated. He struggled greatly afterwards to provide for his family. Does he ever wonder whether or not he made the right choice? Maybe he wishes he would have waited for a better time, I don’t know. And yet, maybe this was the ONLY chance he thought he would have to tell this other man about Christ. This man’s soul was more important to him than his own job security. I know that Jesus will reward him one day. After all, it is JESUS who will judge the whole world one day; we will all have to answer to HIM, not to any police chief, and not to people in charge of Christian aid organizations.

    “So they [the Jewish religious leaders] called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard.'” Acts 4:18-20



  3. Dear Jessica,
    My husband and I have been dealing with issues on this very topic of love/truth. It’s a difficult balancing act to be sure. My husband is a truth teller. He’s the one who’s called when a situation arises where confrontation is needed. Because of this, he gets labeled as ‘an angry man, in your face’ type of guy. (judgmental, narrow minded, don’t know how to love, just to name a few) Truth is, he hates conflict, but when he believes something is contrary to the Bible, he’s not afraid to take a stand.
    The other theme that seems prevalent today, at least where we are, is to get people saved at any cost. Does that mean we fund activities that are clearly against what the Scripture teaches in order to do this? We don’t think so. We aren’t against reaching out to those who need help (love), but not when it goes against the Bible (truth).
    Thankyou for your thoughts on this because it’s hitting so close to home. I’m thankful the Lord laid this on your heart, Jessica!
    Have a good day 🙂 Ruthie


    1. I so appreciate your reply, Ruthie!
      I think of people like John the Baptist, who told people straight out that they needed to repent. I also think of the times Jesus Himself called the religious leaders of His day “hypocrites,” and “white washed tombs,” and “brood of vipers.” These are strong words! We certainly need to be cautious with our words, but perhaps there are times when strong words are necessary, with certain people. I don’t see any thing wrong with that. Sometimes loving people means we get straight to the point with them about what they’re doing wrong: “But on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Jude 22-23 Of course it requires wisdom from God to know how to approach each situation.
      Thanks so much for sharing your experience and your insight–I really love getting your comments!


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