Monday, December 15, 2008

Love for the Truth


Reading:

1) Heidelberg Catechism

The Ninth Commandment

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

112 Q. What is God's will for you in the ninth commandment?

A. God's will is that I never give false testimony against anyone, twist no one's words, not
gossip or slander, nor join in condemning anyone without a hearing or without a just cause.

Rather, in court and everywhere else, I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind; these
are devices the devil himself uses, and they would call down on me God's intense anger.

I should love the truth, speak it candidly, and openly acknowledge it. And I should do
what I can to guard and advance my neighbor's good name.

2) Scripture

1 Corinthians 13:4-6: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-11: The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all
power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Comment:

In every commandment there is both a negative and positive side. Like the old phonograph records, there is a flip side to each commandment. What the Lord forbids negatively, he also requires its opposite positively. So in the ninth commandment, negatively, the Lord forbids false testimony, twisting of words, gossip, slander, condemning anyone unjustly, lying, and any kind of deceit. But positively, the Lord requires that “I should love the truth, speak it candidly, and openly acknowledge it. And I should do what I can to guard and advance my neighbor’s good name.”

It is also important to understand that God’s commandments always have the aim of love --- love for God and love for neighbor. Jesus taught this when he summarized the teaching of the whole Old Testament in terms of love for God and neighbor (Matthew 22:35-40), but so did Paul when he said, “The aim of our charge [or teaching or commandment] is love” (1 Timothy 1:5).

The ninth commandment’s aim, then, is love. But love for what? What are we to love, according to the ninth commandment?

The catechism mentions two things the ninth commandment teaches us to love. First, we should love the truth. Love for the truth is the engine that causes us to “speak it [the truth] candidly, and openly acknowledge it.” Second, by implication, we should love our neighbor. Love is the engine that moves us “to guard and advance my neighbor’s good name.”

Sometimes we mistakenly think that truth is all about the mind, rational thought, logic, and sheer will. When we think about truth we think of Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame and his emotionless, objective analysis of truth. But in reality, loving the truth is not just about our minds but also about our emotions! In fact, if you don’t love the truth, according to 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11, you will fall into error! You can’t truly love someone or something without emotion and passion. When Jesus commanded us to love God and neighbor with all our being, he did not exclude emotion!

The ninth commandment and our two Scripture passages are telling us that we are to love the truth, not only with our understanding but also with our emotions. The truth is something we are to love and rejoice in, and this is not a feeling-less, numb sort of thing. We are to passionately love the truth even as we passionately love God and our neighbor.

The Lord created us to feel deeply, because he feels deeply. As his image bearers he would have us love and rejoice in the truth. He would have us love one another deeply from the heart. It is dangerous not to love and rejoice in the truth. How are you doing in your passionate, emotional love for the truth?

Discussion: What two sides do we see in every command of God? What is the goal of God’s commandments? According to the ninth commandment and the catechism, what are we to love? How do emotion and understanding intersect according to the two Scripture passages?

Prayer Starter: Ask the heavenly Father to remake you according to the image of his beloved Son. If you don’t feel a love or passion for the truth, confess it to him and ask him to change your heart. Spend time praising the Father for the gift of his Son who is truth incarnate with the help of the Spirit.

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