Is Telling the Hard Truth Loving?

Jude 16 – These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. 

The tone and tenor of Jude’s letter makes sense to believers in our wayward and woke world. It feels like the demonic and evil world system has overtaken every aspect of the culture – politics, entertainment, education, business, and even the church. Some Bible commentators declare that Jude is the most negative book in the New Testament, and possibly the entire Bible. 

Jude, however, is not negative. Jude is brutally and accurately honest. Up until this point in his letter, it reads a lot like Solomon’s summary of our broken world in Ecclesiastes, looking only “under the sun”. If we look out into the world, it is all darkness, discouragement and dread. The only hope for this world will not come from this world. We are all part of the problem, and so we cannot be the solution. We have made everything wrong and so we will not be able to make it right. 

One Bible commentary says, “The brief Book of Jude was written by a man who wanted to write a positive treatise on salvation, but found himself driven to pen the New Testament’s strongest condemnation of false teachers and teachings… His denunciation is blunt and powerful. And, in this day of ours when many seem willing to surrender truth in exchange for the sake of harmony, Jude’s words may be especially important for us to heed.” (1)

In our day, it is common for people to hate God so that they can love people. The truth is, to truly be loving means we must agree with and obey our God, who is the source and definition of love. What God says and does is loving, and any deviation from His commands and example is actually hating God, not loving Him. 

Furthermore, the most loving thing we can do for people who are sinners living apart from Jesus Christ is to tell them first the bad news of the gospel – that they are sinners who are wrong in the beliefs and behaviors – and then the good news – that Jesus alone is without sin and came to rescue and save sinners in love. To invite people to repentance of sin is loving, because it brings them to Jesus whose love will save them. To invite people to tolerance of sin is unloving, because it keeps them far from the love of Jesus and damns them. 

For example, Illusionist and atheist Penn Jillette tells a story about getting handed a Bible after a show. “I wanted you to have this,” the man said. “I’m kind of proselytizing. I’m a businessman. I’m sane. I’m not crazy.” The man likely knew he was talking to a resolute atheist, but he was neither aggressive nor defensive. He just looked Jillette in the eye, said some kind words about the show, and gave his gift. The outspoken Jillette says this about the encounter:

“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell—or not getting eternal life or whatever—and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Jillette concludes, “This guy was a really good guy. Polite and honest and sane—and he cared enough about me to proselytize and give me a Bible.” (2)

There are always people who confuse being nice with being helpful. A good doctor is not as worried about saying nice things as with being honest and helpful so you can understand your problem and seek your solution. There are always people who want to take the gospel, which is offensive, and try to find a way to make it inoffensive, which is impossible.

When people profess to be Christian leaders and teachers but are not saying what God says in His Word, they are leading believers astray and damaging the cause of evangelism, which seeks to introduce lost people to Jesus Christ. 

Is there anyone you’re praying for to accept Jesus? Continue sharing the hope of your faith with them and believing that the Holy Spirit will work in them.

  1. Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 899.

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