This article was discussed on Episode 10 of the All Truth Is God’s Truth Podcast recently. This segment starts at 18:57.
As Christians, we often deceive ourselves into thinking we love others when in reality, we have redefined “love.” Christians often adopt the myth that love is less important than miraculous spiritual gifts, deep doctrine, faith, or sacrifice (1 Cor. 13:1-3). The Internet and Social Media have tempted Christians to say things that may be true in unloving ways towards those they disagree with. In the name of defending the right use of miraculous spiritual gifts, deep doctrine, faith, or sacrifice, Christians argue without love as if being discerning is greater than exercising love. Yet the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 said,
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Trading an incorrect understanding and improper use of miraculous spiritual gifts, deep doctrine, faith, or sacrifice for an unloving correct view and proper use of miraculous spiritual gifts, deep doctrine, faith, or sacrifice is merely trading one sin for another. And Paul argues that it is worse to lack biblical love than it is to lack the correct understanding or proper use of these other gifts of the Spirit.
In other words, to summarize Paul. . .
- The right use of the gifts of tongues and prophecy become poisoned in the hands of unloving Christians.
- The correct understanding of deep biblical doctrine becomes poisoned in the hands of unloving Christians.
- The right use of the gift of faith becomes poisoned in the hands of unloving Christians.
- The sacrifice of one’s own life for the sake of God, Christ, and the gospel becomes poisoned in the hands of unloving Christians.
Consider Jon Huss, a pre-Reformation Reformer, as an example. As he was burned at the stake by the Catholic Church for believing and teaching that Christ alone is the Head of the church, he said, “Lord Jesus, it is for thee that I patiently endure this cruel death. I pray thee to have mercy on my enemies” (Source). He then recited the Psalms as the flames overcame him. He followed Christ’s example, for Christ prayed for his enemies even as they nailed him to the cross (Luke 23:34). Neither Christ nor Jon Huss traded recanting for unloving sacrifice. Instead, they traded recanting for the loving sacrifice of their own lives.
To trade love for discernment is not discernment. Jesus Christ lived this reality par excellence and Jon Huss in the power of the Holy Spirit followed his Savior’s example.
Will we follow our Savior’s example as well?