We proclaim God’s truth with a sense of urgency because the stakes are high. Likewise, we declare God’s truth with boldness and with clarity because the consequences of confusion could be disastrous. And in all this, we share God’s truth with a spirit of love. We cannot afford to undermine God’s message by proclaiming it with an angry, judgmental, or self-righteous attitude. Instead, we “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
Love does not prioritize people’s feelings over truth, and it does not ignore danger, encourage irresponsible behavior, or deny reality. Rather, love warns. Love prioritizes the needs of others above our own, and it patiently endures all things as it pursues the absolute best for others (1 Cor. 13:4–7). As such, our warning, while urgent, bold, and clear, ought also to be compassionate, considerate, and genuine. The apostle Paul declares, “My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them” (Rom. 9:2). Elsewhere, Paul recounts how he passionately and persistently warned the Ephesians: “Be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears” (Acts 20:31, NIV).
Paul was not alone in his compassion for those he warned. Jeremiah is remembered as the “Weeping Prophet” (Jer. 13:17). Even Jesus wept over the coming judgment upon Jerusalem, about which He had warned in Matthew chapters 23 and 24 (Luke 19:41–44).
Author and apologist Dr. Michael Brown challenges:
When is the last time we warned someone with tears? When is the last time we cared enough to weep for them in private? May God break our hearts with the things that break His heart. May the Lord shatter our indifference. In the words of the Book of Proverbs, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. . . . Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue” (Proverbs 27:5–6; 28:23). We are not called to tickle people’s ears and make them feel good. We are called to speak the truth in love, to have hearts of compassion and backbones of steel, to emulate the true prophets not the false prophets, to do the right thing rather than the convenient thing.
We cannot truly love others if we are unwilling to warn them of the consequences of their continued rebellion to God’s instructions. Likewise, we cannot accurately represent the heart of God if we are unwilling to warn others. Becoming God’s cultural influencers requires that we fervently warn others with a boldness and clarity that stems from a place of loving compassion.
This article comes from Heart of a Forerunner: How to Be a Relevant and Influential Voice in a Wayward Nation
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Brown, Michael. “Love Warns.” AskDrBrown, August 28, 2015. https://askdrbrown.org/library/love-warns.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.