The word love gets thrown around a lot these days — whether it’s the most recent catchphrase (“love wins”), or the admonishment to “love the sinner and hate the sin,” or simply the world’s attempt to conquer hatred and injustice (“love conquers all”).
But in the words of Inigo Montoya, I don’t think that word means what most people think it means.
True love does not blindly accept every new thing that comes along.
True love does not look the other way when people are walking themselves into ruin.
True love does not stay silent when there is truth to be shared.
Yet that is exactly what the world wants us to do. It clamors for us to quietly succumb to the waning morality of society, to suppress the truth in favor of popular opinion, politely accepting every new aberration as normal despite our convictions or standard of truth. In the eyes of the world, all belief systems are valid and all roads lead to immortality. It pays homage to the heart as the supreme ruler of right and wrong.
But the world has itching ears: it rejects any standard of absolute truth in favor of whatever sounds good at the moment. It bids us follow our passions, our inborn desires… it measures morality against the barometer of the heart.
Yet God — the One who created each of us, and knows us better than we know ourselves — says that our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately sick.
Consider this statement for a moment. It’s not just a simple feeling of malaise or general discomfort: it is something far more dangerous! When God says every man’s heart is sick, He is describing each heart as:
Those qualities are tragic enough by themselves — do you want to be known as deeply bored? deranged? morally sadistic? — but God doesn’t leave it there. He calls it a desperate sort of sickness. What does that mean?
God says our hearts are recklessly deranged — dangerously unsound — shockingly corrupt.
Is that the message you hear from the world?
Or do you hear that man is basically good? That behaviors are only considered “immoral” because they stifle man’s survival potential? That people would never set up conditions for their own destruction?
In the world’s eyes, even if our hearts do have some innate sickness, they also have some virtue… and karma tells us that the good usually outweighs the bad. After all, how many people do you know who are mass murderers or career thieves? More likely, you have neighbors who care for their families and coworkers who serve with integrity and kindness.
But look what else God says about the human heart: He says it is deceitful above all things. In other words, our hearts are characterized by an unlimited capacity for:
Does it still sound like man is essentially good? Or can you begin to see the trickiness — the insincerity — even within your own heart?
If you have ever told a “little white lie” to make yourself look better, or ignored the elephant in the room to avoid discomfort or tension, then you have firsthand proof this quality of deceitfulness. Did you intentionally try to behave with reckless derangement or moral corruption? Of course not! But that is what is ingrained in your heart.
That is how we are all born.
And that is how all who reject the truth of God’s Word will remain.
Yet the world says to follow your heart, listen to your inner voice, be true to yourself. It tells you to follow your deepest passions, no matter what anyone else thinks, because you are the greatest authority of what is right or wrong for your life.
But if your heart is so misleading, why would you follow it so devotedly?
The appearance of morality that we see in most people is very thin. Anything can break through its surface — from a round of difficult circumstances, to an powerful unexpected temptation, to the pervasive influence of wickedness that already surrounds us.
Once that veneer is breached, the inherent desperate sickness makes itself known quite obstinately. And once that sickness has freedom to advance, the only logical conclusion is the destruction of its host.
Now tell me something: if someone you loved had a fatal illness, would you keep them ignorant of a possible cure? Would you keep your mouth shut if you saw them driving recklessly toward the edge of a cliff, or avert your eyes if someone tried to attack them?
Of course not.
And would you want someone else to stay silent if they saw you running headlong into ruin? Would you want them to ignore the facts in favor of not hurting your feelings?
Of course not.
So how is it loving to let people follow their hearts, when we know the truth about where their hearts will lead them?
It doesn’t matter whether it’s physical or spiritual, sickness always leads to death unless someone intervenes with a cure. Those who are bent on following their hearts — their sick, deceitful hearts — will surely end up destroying themselves.
Sharing that truth is not unkind or bigoted or prejudiced!
It is compassionate, because it manifests genuine love for another’s well-being.
It is merciful, because it shares the hope of an ultimate cure.
It is life-giving, because it calls sin what it is, and thus points the way to true freedom.
Love graciously speaks the truth about our soul-sickness with kindness — but also with boldness — no matter how hard it may be for that person to hear, because it rejoices in seeing others find true freedom and abundant life in Christ.
Love does not stay silent when there is truth to be shared.
How can you use your voice to lovingly speak truth to others?
How can you share God’s truth where you are right now – at home or in the workplace, within your community, or even online?