As a mature apostle, John learned the lesson well. His brief second epistle offers vivid proof of how well he balanced the twin virtues of truth and love. Throughout that epistle, John repeatedly couples the concepts of love and truth. He writes, “To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth” (2 John 1).
But John balances that emphasis on love in the second half of the epistle by urging this woman not to compromise her love by receiving and blessing false teachers who undermine the truth. Genuine love is not some saccharine sentiment that disregards the truth and tolerates everything:
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (2 John 7–11″ data-version=”nasb95″>2 John 7–11)
John is no longer calling down fire from heaven against the enemies of truth, but he cautions this lady not to go to the other extreme, either. She is not to open her home or even bestow a verbal blessing on people who make a living twisting and opposing the truth.
Love and truth must be maintained in perfect balance. Truth is never to be abandoned in the name of love. But love is not to be deposed in the name of truth. That is what John learned from Christ, and it gave him the balance he so desperately needed.
(Adapted from Twelve Ordinary Men)
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