When you tell the truth to people and show them what the scriptures say, there will be some who say you are unloving and legalistic. They don't realise, however, what a very serious accusation that is.
It is not uncommon to hear a Christian accused of lacking love, especially when that Christian expresses anger or hurt, or insists that some wrong be corrected.
From a Biblical perspective, to call someone unloving is the worst accusation you can make. If you say a person does not have love, that is tantamount to calling that person godless. John says, "he who does not love, does not know God..." (1John 4:8).
Furthermore, the previous verse seems to indicate that one who does not love is not born of God (1John 4:7). So to accuse someone of not having love is to accuse that one of being godless and unregenerate.
Love and knowing God go together. So when you say someone is unloving you are placing them among those who don't know God.
Of course you may say that your accusation refers to one particular. You are pointing to an aberration. The person you accuse is generally loving and knows God, but stumbles in one or two instances where you perceive love is lacking.
Well that's fair enough, however the accusation is often made as a generalisation and that's what we are talking about in this lesson.
There are other things that go together with love. One of them is Truth...
Often when people speak truth from the scriptures, they will be accused of lacking love. One might reply in the words of Paul, "Am I your enemy because I tell you the truth?" (Galatians 4:16).
Churches of Christ, for example, preach baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Those who preach "faith alone" and who think we preach "water salvation" will sometimes accuse us of legalism and lack of love because we tell people to "arise and be baptized and wash away your sins" (Acts 22:16). We are implying that their sins are not yet washed away.
The motivation for such preaching is not legalism. It is a love of the truth (2Thessalonians 2:9-11). It is "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).
There are those who believe that binding the law of Christ on people is legalism. They call it Pharisaical (Matthew 23:23-26). Jesus did not criticise the Pharisees for meticulous attention to details of law. He criticised them for neglecting the weightier matters.
Under Christ’s law, the gospel, Christians can be faithful to Christ without the burden of detailed rules and regulations. However there are rules to follow and commandments he requires us to keep. He must be obeyed (2Thessalonians 1:8-9).
The commandments of Jesus are truth and if we love truth we will love Jesus and keep his commandments (John 14:15).
"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome" (1John 5:2-3).
Pricilla and Aquila took Apollos the preacher aside to show him "the way of the Lord more perfectly" (Acts 18:24-28). They corrected him on baptism. Were they unloving and Pharisaical?
Apollos was already "fervent in spirit". Wasn't that enough? Apollos himself did not think so. He was glad and appreciative of what Pricilla and Aquila did to help him. He did not think them unloving to tell him the truth.
We should briefly mention another thing that requires love.
We are told in scripture to be devoted to one another in love (Romans 12:10; Galatians 5:13). One cannot serve God and one another without love. If you say someone is unloving, then you imply that they are of no service to God or his people.
Now to complete this lesson, we will consider one more thing that goes with love...
Now that might look like a typographical error, but I mean it. Love goes with love. That is to say, our love for God goes with God’s love for us.
As John says, "We love God because he first loved us" (1John 4:19).
There are two loves there, and they are very strongly connected. John goes on to say, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God and everyone who loves him who begot also loves the one who is begotten of him" (1John 5:1-2).
Jesus said, "If a man loves me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23).
In the above Bible verses, we have seen that those who respond with faith and obedience to God will be loved by God in a special way. They are born into God’s family and God makes his home in them.
All that blessing is witheld from those who do not have love. And who lives in them if God doesn't? Think about that, before accusing this or that person of being unloving.