Bible Reading Blog
“Truth and Love”Categories: Congregational Bible Reading
“And now I ask you dear lady… that we love one another.” (2 John 1.5)
This seems to be an odd request. The basis for John’s relationship with this woman was their common knowledge and acceptance of the truth. It seems logical that love would exist in their relationship. As John would say, the command to love was not a new commandment (1.5; cf. John 13.34)
However, given this request, it appears a natural tension may have existed between John and this woman. Perhaps she was a Gentile and they had wrestled with harmonizing their relationship together in Christ (consider Ephesians 2.11-22). Whatever the case, it appears they had worked hard to establish this loving relationship (2 John 1.8).
Both were committed to not just know Jesus, but to let his words direct their behaviors. They would not get swept up in doctrinal error or compromise on the teaching of Jesus (2 John 1.7, 10). But they also could not let their natural leanings affect how they behaved towards one another.
For this to happen, John emphasized the need for both truth and love. It wasn’t as though one were more significant, but rather they worked together. Truth guided the exercise of love (2 John 1.6). Love was proven by the test of truth (2 John 1.1).
We don’t always balance these two well. In fact, we sometimes emphasize one, at the expense of the other. Some have emphasized truth and stood for doctrinal matters in a way that is cold and judgmental, sometimes even to the point of cruelty. On the other hand, some have made the mistake of emphasizing love at the expense of truth. They behave as though we should accept everyone and everything, being tolerant in all directions. While both extremes begin with an approriate premise, neither rightly assumes the nature of Jesus.
He came to seek and save the lost. He came to reconcile people to God, together in his body. The gospel affects not just what we believe but how we treat others. We must learn to conform to both truth and love without compromise, recognizing their purpose. The truth grounds our thinking and love reminds us that faith is more theory. It is a practical book that reforms how we treat people.
John is known as the apostle of love, but he makes sure we know that love is work. It requires that we are informed, determined and Christ-centered. But most importantly that we practically apply that knowledge in service towards others.
“Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.” (2 John 1.8)