Repulsively right

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

Consider the difference between the “Jonah” preacher and the “Jeremiah” preacher. Apparently one would have thrilled at seeing Nineveh burn under fire and brimstone; the other wept as his beloved Jerusalem burned.

In my opinion, churches of Christ have got it right for the most part over the last 170 years or so. I am saddened and disturbed by those brethren who feel we have been wrong to call men and women back to the Scripture and restore New Testament Christianity, who think there is a better way, a more noble plea.

It’s important to be right; but we must do more than be right. We must be loving in our rightness, gentle in our proclamation of truth. We must aim to see people turn from error, not to see them burn. People don’t respond well to truth, spoken arrogantly and in unkindness. But gentleness is more than good psychology; it also communicates the way we value other people.

As Jesus once put it so sweetly, we must be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

We can’t afford to be repulsively right. We can’t win all the debates … and lose the soul.

Make no mistake, love without truth is not really love at all, it is misguided sentimentality; but truth without love is as abrasive as a high school football coach’s gravelly voice.

Love the lost enough to tell them the truth; love the truth enough to tell it kindly.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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2 thoughts on “Repulsively right

  1. This article is so true! I can’t find anywhere in the NT where Jesus was unkind to a true seeker or anyone who was lost and feeling hopeless. Unfortunately I’ve experienced enough unkindness in the past that I am very guarded and sometimes afraid to ask questions that I probably need to ask. Having been a Christian now for almost seven months, I am starting to trust again. I know there are “safe” places, like this website and my home group from church, where I do not have to worry about being put down, or made to feel like I am hopelessly immature. The thing is, I know I am still immature, and I feel bad enough knowing that I’ve spent decades away from God. I don’t need to be made to feel worse by someone being unkind (which they never have on this site).

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