“Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

Always speaking the truth in love might sound easy, especially for Christians. But it isn’t, is it? Often we are inclined to sugar coat the truth if it’s a harsh one, share a truth through gossip that is no one else’s business, or hide the truth if it will be met with ridicule or confrontation.

But God’s instruction to us is clear – speak the truth in love. This goes for everything we say. What good does it do to share all the truth in the world if no one will listen because they think we don’t care about them? Or what good does it do to love everyone passionately but have nothing of value to share with them? When it comes to the good news of Jesus, we need both a deep, encompassing love for the lost and the treasured truth that salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus alone.

Let’s look at what Jesus did. He loved. He loved so much that he gave up his heavenly glory and did what was needed to save us. His life on earth was not easy or comfortable. His suffering and death on the cross were even worse. But he lived perfectly and died unjustly because he loves you and me and all the lost souls who ever lived. Jesus has the perfect, all-encompassing love.

He also has the truth; in fact, he is the Truth. He preached a message of repentance, then he won forgiveness for the repentant heart by suffering hell for the world! Is there any greater combination than this? Is there any greater truth coupled with any greater love? Of course not. That is the love of our Savior Jesus.

The apostle John writes in Chapter 4, verse 19 of his first letter the simple passage we all learned as children, “We love because he first loved us.” Seven easy little words that mean so much! Consider his love—incomprehensible though it is—which turned the certainty of hell for us, his enemies, into the sure hope of an eternity of joy in his presence.

Now consider our love:  how stingy, how jealous, how self-serving, how judgmental, how half-hearted it can often be. Sometimes it’s easy to love others, truly love them. Sometimes it’s very difficult. No matter – we are to love all people just as Jesus does. And he is the one who lived the example of genuine love, enables us to strive for that love in our attitudes, shows us in his Word how to enact that love, and forgives us when we fail.

When we realize how unlovable we were when Jesus saved us, we can begin to love others as selflessly. That’s the love that drives our missionaries to share the almighty truth of Jesus with the lost souls around them. It’s what enables them to persevere when Satan seems to block their every effort or when he puts frustrations and distractions in their minds that divert them from their mission. That’s the love that keeps our missions administrators dedicated to finding the best ways to reach the most people with the gospel message. That’s the love that compels each of us to be faithful in prayer, encouragement, and financial support of our synod’s missions and missionaries.

We have the perfect combination – a love for the lost, modeled on our Savior’s perfect love, and the powerful truth that gives salvation right now in this wicked world and promises perfect peace forever to all who believe in Jesus Christ.

Lord, fill my heart with a genuine love for the lost that moves me to faithful support of gospel outreach, so that countless souls are brought into your kingdom. Bless all who are engaged in gospel outreach with a selfless love that compels them to share your saving truth at every opportunity. Strengthen them when they tire, give them wisdom for each situation, and remove every obstacle that would limit the spread of your kingdom.
Amen.

Karla Jaeger
Milwaukee Metro South Circuit