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Love's Balancing Act

by Skip Heitzig |
Did you know that if your love has no boundaries, it's dangerous? True love requires a love for the truth. As the apostle Paul said, love "does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth" (1 Corinthians 13:6). Truth should form the boundaries for our expressions of love. If we don't take a balanced approach to expressing God's love to others, then that love becomes a permission slip to do anything: "After all, God loves me. I can do anything and be anyone, and God will still love me."

Yes, you could keep on sinning, and Jesus would still love you. But the thing is, if you come to Him for salvation and claim to be His follower, He expects you to turn away from your old lifestyle. He loves broken, sinful people, but He doesn't want them to stay broken and sinful. That's because He is perfectly holy and just and will one day judge unrepentant sin.

So let me give you three quick guidelines that will help you find balance in the way you love: be balanced theologically, be bold spiritually, and be bountiful (or generous) practically. First, be balanced theologically. Frankly, too many people place too much emphasis on the loving side of God's nature. We love to quote 1 John 4:8--"God is love"--but I wonder how many of us have Psalm 7:11 underlined in our Bibles: "God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day." God is perfectly holy and just, demanding a penalty for sin. Without punishing sin, God would be unjust in forgiving sin. But because He's also perfectly loving, He was compelled to pay that penalty Himself. That's what the cross is all about. And that's the theological balance we should aim for.

Second, be bold spiritually. Paul the apostle is a great example of this--just read Romans 2:5-8: "In accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who 'will render to each one according to his deeds': eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath."

Paul was a bold man. Most people probably would have walked out on this speech at the very beginning! But as he said back in Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes." You live in a society that is doing everything it can to make you feel ashamed of the gospel--but you have nothing to be ashamed of! So stand up, speak out, and boldly oppose your culture and its ideas.

Third, be bountiful and generous practically. In Romans 2:4, Paul talked about the riches of God's goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering. Those words describe God's approach to a sinful world--and they ought to describe our approach, too. After all, one of the most remarkable features of Jesus Christ is His unique ability to love people. By His very nature, He is tenderhearted and compassionate, and He withholds judgment until it can be withheld no longer.

Brothers and sisters, our tone, our approach should be one of loving-kindness and bountiful tenderness. An open hand is better than a pointed finger, even though it's so easy to fall into finger pointing. But once you're prepared and willing to be maligned and impugned and misunderstood, then you can maintain that open hand.

You will attract more unbelievers with kindness than with correctness--but you can have both. You don't have to sacrifice one for the other. It's a tough little dance, but you can be doctrinally, theologically, and biblically correct, and balance that with a tone of kindness and sincere love. I pray your love would follow that mold this week, being balanced, bold, and bountiful.

In His strong love,

Skip Heitzig

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