A Misconception About Biblical Love
I provided a definition of biblical love in my last blog post found here. As a quick recap, biblical love is like God’s love for us or a parent’s love for a child. The opposite of biblical love is not hate but selfishness, as biblical love is a love that wants what is best for the other person and is even willing to make sacrifices on behalf of that other person. But there are some common misconceptions about biblical, self-sacrificing love that I think need to be cleared up. When we truly love someone in a biblical fashion, when we have chosen to want what is best for them, it doesn’t mean that we won’t challenge them, hold them accountable or enforce discipline or consequences. The concept of biblical love must also be combined with the Bible’s teachings about human nature. The Bible clearly teaches that we all need accountability. I have heard statements such as “if you love me, you would trust me” and “you say you love me but you are trying to stop me from being who I am”. The truth is sometimes “who we are” is just not biblical and if someone loves us, they don’t want us to stay in that place. The Bible has passages in both the Old and New Testaments where we are told to challenge and correct one another. A few examples are: You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. Leviticus 19: 17 [ESV] Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence; reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge. Proverbs 19: 25 [ESV] Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27: 5 – 6 [ESV] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3: 16 [ESV] preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. II Timothy 4: 2 [ESV] My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5: 19 – 20 [ESV] Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Revelation 3: 19 [ESV] We can see from the sample verses above that the theme of admonishing or correcting one another runs through the entire Bible. Below are the main points I believe we are to take from these verses. God in His perfect love rebukes and disciplines His children because He wants what is best for us and that should be our motivation as well. If we truly love someone and want what is best for them, holding them to a standard and correcting them is a requirement, not an option. And we must always be careful of our motives. It is easy to charge against someone we don’t like for our own satisfaction rather than for their benefit. On the flip side, it can difficult to challenge someone we care for emotionally. The key is our mindset. When we admonish, are we truly doing it in love, with patience and for the true benefit of the other person? Andy’s book, Clear Vision: How The Bible Teaches Us To View The World, can be purchased here.