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We cannot divorce the truth from love


Some of the hardest moments in my life were when someone told me the truth. 

Kenny Rager

Oftentimes, these "truth moments" came from people whom I highly respected and loved. These people had earned the right to speak truth into my life because they had proved that they loved me. 

One example of a "truth-teller" came in the form of a dear friend named Jeff Crabtree. Jeff currently serves on staff at Hillview Heights Church in Bowling Green. At the time, Jeff was my regional consultant with the Kentucky Baptist Convention. 

Jeff had earned the right to speak into my life through his ongoing friendship and mentorship. On several occasions, Jeff had a "truth moment" with me — not as a KBC consultant, but as a friend. 

Jeff's guidance helped me course correct some serious issues that I was working through. His advice led me to seek forgiveness from brothers who I had offended and brought me to humility. Friends tell the truth. Jeff Crabtree is a friend. 

Proverbs 27:6: "The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive" (CSB). Indeed, Jesus, who is our friend, spoke tough — but true — words that often offended the Pharisees. Yet the truth of Christ was also part of His love. In Christ, we see complete love without a compromise of truth. Like Jesus, we need to be a friend to others by speaking the truth. 

The greatest act of love and friendship that we can give is the act of sharing the truth of the gospel with our loved ones. If we genuinely love people, then we will be concerned about their eternal destination by telling them God's plan of salvation. 

• A true friend will always explain that Christ went to the cross as a substitute for our sins so that we could be forgiven.

• A true friend will pray for and encourage his friend to receive and believe the gospel.

As we think about "loving one another," we cannot divorce the truth from love. We may be tempted to believe that a rebuke or a correction is not an act of love when it really is. 

I would like to encourage you to love your friends by presenting them with the truth of the gospel of Jesus. I am not sure if your friends will receive your gospel presentation as an act of love or not, but you will still present the gospel because you love them. 

Kenny Rager is a church evangelism strategist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, covering the western half of Kentucky.

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