Passion drives many of us. For those of us who are passionate about sharing the truths of Christianity, we are driven to get the word out about the salvation we have found in Christ to as many as possible. This is not only good for the Christian, it is encouraged. Jesus commands the Christian to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). When it comes to apologetics, the defender is fervently passionate about presenting the Christian faith in a reasonable and rational way. However, it seems that there is a trend that many well-meaning Christians have become indifferent and bellicose in their responses to fellow Christians and unbelievers. While the Christian must stand for truth, let one not forget the commands of compassion that the Christian must demonstrate.
Love is at the Center of the Two Great Commandments
Jesus was asked about which commandments were the greatest. Jesus responded by saying, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). There is a common word found in both these commandments. Did you catch what it was? It was love. While it is certainly important to live a righteous life, it is never okay to forget the main focus of the law itself…love.
Jesus’ Harshest Condemnation Came to Those Who Lacked Love
When Jesus came down on the disciples and the Pharisees the hardest, it was either because they were not showing true faith or because they were guilty of not demonstrating compassion to others. For instance, when Jesus was dining in the home of Matthew (one who was deemed a sinner by the Pharisees), Jesus said of the Pharisees that they needed to “go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but the sinners” (Matthew 9:13). Jesus was quoting Hosea 6:6 as indicated in the all-caps of the New American Standard. So often, Christians seek to break fellowship with someone when a person falls into sin. Certainly, one needs to guard from being trapped by the sin themselves. But, it seems that a complete break in fellowship from one who is ensnared in sin in counter-productive. Regardless, Jesus demonstrated love for those who were engaged in a sinful lifestyle. As we preach truth, let us not forget compassion for those who have been led astray.
Love is the Mark of a True Disciple
Jesus said it as loud and clear as He said anything, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). Love is the mark that should identify a Christian. It is so important that John writes in his letter that “the one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother is in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1 John 2:9-10). If that was not strong enough to demonstrate the importance of love, John goes on to say that “the one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).
So with all this mention of love, it should be defined what love truly means. Paul writes that love is…
does not brag,
is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly,
does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
rejoices in truth,
bears all things,
believes all things (according to truth),
hopes all things,
endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
It is possible to be the greatest of speakers…the most brilliant of teachers…the most persuasive of debaters…and the most respected of scholars…and still not make an impact for the kingdom of God if one does not have love. So, the moral of the post is…don’t lose your compassion in your passions.
All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.