Judge Not? Speaking Truth in Love



Christians are often accused of being pompous, arrogant, judgmental, and intolerant.  Often, Christians find their own Scripture being quoted back to them. The most commonly heard verse is:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

From those leveling these accusations at Christians, there is truth in what they say, but there is also error.

In this series, I will be exploring these accusations, and analyzing humility, tolerance, and related ideas from a Christian, biblical worldview, ending the series by analyzing the much-used (and over-used) passage of Matthew 7:1.

In the previous articles, we concluded:

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

Now, we will explore an extremely important biblical concept…

Speaking Truth in Love

In Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul teaches that Jesus Christ, God the Son, has provided teachers to instruct Christians to equip them for ministry. In doing so, Paul uses the term “the saints” not how modern Catholics use the phrase, but to refer to all believers in Christ:


“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (4:11-12)


Thus, all Christians, without exception, are ministers of God’s truth as revealed through his divine Scripture. Further, all believers are to grow in maturity in their faith (4:13), so they’re no longer led astray by false teachings (4:14), and…


“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (4:15)


What we’re going to focus on here is this beautiful phrase:

“Speaking the truth in love”

Christians are the bearers of truth, but unfortunately many Christians have done poorly in sharing God’s truth because it often lacks love. The implication of 4:15 is if we deliver God’s truth without love, God’s truth will fall on deaf ears.

Elsewhere, in 1 Corinthians 13:1, Paul writes,


“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”


The lesson is clear: Christians can speak all the truth they possibly can, but if that truth isn’t motivated by love all their efforts are for nothing. Without love, truth is just a bunch of noise.


Further, Christians are to “speak” truth not just in words but also in actions. Living a life of truth encompasses all we do – not just our words, but everything we partake in needs to speak God’s unending, grace-filled truth and love.

With this, Jesus Christ is our perfect model. Jesus tells us he “came not to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20:28). At the Passover meal before his arrest, Jesus removed his outer garments, put on the apron of a servant, and washed his disciples’ feet, a task only done by the lowest servant or slave in that day. He said,


“For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you”          (John 13:15).


Jesus’ earthly life is one of self-sacrificial love and humble service. But he also wasn’t a passive wimp without convictions. For example, in Matthew 22, Jesus says to the Sadducees concerning their disbelief of the resurrection of the dead:


“You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (22:29)


Jesus always spoke truth – sometimes quite bluntly!  But his actions spoke the truth of his love – and the love of his truth – louder than any words ever could.

Of course, the ultimate example of Jesus’ love is his willing death on the cross for the good of all humankind.

So, Christians, with both their speech and actions, must always speak truth with love.


Craig Blomberg, while commenting on Ephesians 4:11-16 in his book From Pentecost to Patmos, writes, “Without truth, all the love in the world can save no one. Without love, few people are likely to listen to the truth!”

Thus, keep in mind, speaking truth means you don’t suppress truth either. Speaking truth sometimes means saying things others will not like.

Notice Blomberg stresses both truth and love as equally important. We cannot do only one – or even emphasize or favor one over the other.  As pointed out above, Jesus always spoke truth, even when his audience wouldn’t like the truth, but this did not mean he was being unloving.

Without love, truth falls on deaf ears. Without truth, love can do no good.

Love needs truth, and truth needs love.

Whether others respond to your loving truth with the same love as you showed is another matter.

Thus, we coming to our third concept…

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth in love.

NEXT: #4 – On Christian Arrogance


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**Read PART 1 of “Judge Not?” here.**

**Read PART 2 of “Judge Not?” here.**