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Vol.  9  No. 11 November 2007  Page 16
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Andy RobisonDo the Loving Thing

By Andy Robison

    It is with amazement that some might call arrogance with which this author views many naïve, misdirected calls to “do the loving thing” in religious matters. Call it what opponents may, any “loving thing” needs biblical definition.

    Consider examples of misguided pleas:

    1) If men differ on how to be saved, “do the loving thing” and do not challenge views. Let all believe what they will, and let God sort it out in the end.

    2) If people are engaged in what one sees as sin, but they seem happy, “the loving thing” is to just live and let live. They’ll answer to God for it, and no one on earth is their judge.

    Consider, now, biblical responses:

    1) If the Bible speaks on the plan of salvation, students of the Bible have the responsibility to rightly understand it (2 Timothy 2:15) and teach it (2 Timothy 2:2). The loving thing is to gently and to humbly (2 Timothy 2:24-25) confront error in the hopes that truth will be understood and heeded (John 8:32; 1 Timothy 2:4).

    2) “Brethren, if any man is overtaken in a trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2). What more need be said?

    Granted, the truly loving thing will carry with it some the air of judgmental pomposity. Paul sharply rebuked the Galatian church and fell quickly from the status of hero to the unenviable position of enemy (Galatians 4:14-16), but Paul was never one to seek popularity. Instead, “knowing the terror of the Lord,” he “persuade(d) men” (2 Corinthians 5:11).

    Oh, that men would understand that “the loving thing” is not always the most well received. The Corinthians were made sorry with a letter. Paul did not enjoy having to do so. But the eventual results were desirable. Their godly sorrow produced repentance and the ensuing diligence, clear conscience, zeal and vindication (2 Corinthians 7:8-11). Christ consistently spoke the love of God. He was crucified for it.

    The goodness of God, the truly loving thing, should be spoken in love, though it may or may not be received with the same forbearance. After all, the goodness of God is not designed for men’s applause, but to lead men to repentance (Romans 2:4).

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