In the Book of Mormon, 4th Nephi chapter 1, we read about a people who for about 200 years after Christ’s death and resurrection, lived in harmony. In that chapter, it notes that “there was no contention among all the people, in all the land.” In fact, in that same chapter, it notes that lack of contention three different times. In verse 15, we find out why: “there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.”
In my last post, I introduced the topic of standing up for truth. In this post, I’d like to talk about the importance of having a heart filled with the love of God as we stand for truth.
Christ taught us very clearly that we are to “love one another” (John 13:34) and even that we are to “love our enemies” (Matt 5:44). Now, those we witness to, or even contend with, are not necessarily our enemies, nor should we necessarily consider them as such. But even if it came to that, it is not an excuse to not have love in our hearts for all those around us. Christ left us no room to say “I don’t need to love that person.”
Ultimately, any time we stand as a witness for truth, we should be doing it with love. When Christ boldly withstood the Pharisees, He must have hoped that His words could in some way help that “generation of vipers.” Ezekiel chapters 18 and 33 testify of that hope. These Pharisees were children of God, and candidates for salvation. When Christ was asked to judge the woman taken in adultery, He corrected her gently and instructed her to “sin no more,” but it is entirely clear that His heart was full of love and compassion for her. All of Christ’s actions testified of His eternal love for all of us, even the ones that require correct, judgment, and act as “vipers.”
In our own lives, we might find it necessary to stand up or truth, or even to correct. When we do, we should be sure to start from a place of love. In Hebrews 12:6 we learn that God corrects those whom He loves. The verse testifies that the correction of love is in fact a witness that God loves us! How much more should our correction and testimony, when needed, be a witness of our love, always.
I believe that it is not only OK to be bold, it is sometimes critical. There are those in the world who need to hear a bold message, or they will never be reached and their hearts never softened so that they can understand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on their behalf. If we are too concerned about fights, debates, and even contention, to stand as witnesses of Christ, we’re missing an opportunity to show our love for those around us. It is certainly not as easy for us to do all things properly, as Christ did, especially when it comes to emotional interactions. But we must do our best, and we must do it with love.