OK, I over-state my case, but I got your attention, didn’t I?
I have a friend who grew weary of people telling him that he was being “unloving” (based solely on his content) when he spoke the truth to a third party, particularly as it regarded man’s state apart from Christ. His response was, “so you want me to ‘love’ them (the third party) straight to hell?”
And my friend’s response was right. There is a large chunk of professing Christendom that has a poor grasp on the definitions of some pretty small words, believing that anything that isn’t Mr-Rogers-nice is unloving.
Ephesians 4:14 describes a very dire issue that Paul is trying to correct:
that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
Paul’s solution (in verse 15):
but, speaking the truth …
And there it is, right there. The ultimate response to error is the truth. No matter how much darkness there is, it cannot fully annihilate even the smallest amount of light. The reverse is not true, though (a sufficient amount of light can fully annihilate darkness).
And, after all, what can be more loving than the truth of the Gospel? That despite our fallen state, God loves us and provided — at great expense to Him and no expense to us — a means to get rid of that fallen state.
But wait, there’s more.
Repeating that verse again, but with two more words:
but, speaking the truth in love …
See, I think that Paul knew that we could be … well … idiots. That we would grasp the truth and somehow think that this said something — anything — about us, rather than merely being evidence of God’s grace. Put another way, in the words of the late Michael “iMonk” Spencer, “[w]e have to match our belief in the truth with a humility about ourselves.”
Perhaps equal in error to the assumption that anything un-nice is also unloving is the assumption that merely speaking the truth, regardless of methodology, is inherently, sufficiently — and always — loving. If that was true, then that prepositional phrase (”in love”) is redundant.
If we were perfect, then that phrase probably wouldn’t be needed. But I’m not there yet. And 10:1, you aren’t either.