It seems there are two extremes in Christian thought. We have one side that insists on grace and love and coming as you are. On the other side we have an emphasis on sin with the just punishment of sin prominent. One side that says, “We must share the grace of God with people. They must know that God loves them as they are!” The other side that says, “We must not pull the punches, we need to declare the penalty of sin!” However, both are true. Both are important. If we do not talk of sin and hell then we will hardly find a conviction of a need for a savior. If, however, we do not declare God’s mercies, love and grace, we might fall prey to works-based salvation and a preaching morality and legalism.
Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself. (Ezekiel 33:7–9)
You see Christian, you and I are the watchmen. We must show the love and grace of Jesus. We must not pull the punches and fail to speak when there is truth that must be declared. We must be brutally honest. This world needs (though often does not want to hear) the truth and it needs to be bold in our proclamation of what is true. However, we must speak the truth in love. If we do not care, if we do not hold a deep love for those to whom we speak to we will do more harm than good. Without truth we as Christians are just fluffy pillows. Without love we as Christians are just a charging bull. We cannot bring comfort alone and yet we cannot maul people with the truth.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
We do not want to be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. We do not want to blabber or yell on street corners all the while turning people away from anything even remotely Christian. You see people on street corners in major cities proclaiming damnation unless there is repentance, yet I often wonder what sort of seeds are being planted? Will those seeds lead to godly repentance (2 Cor. 6:8-11) or will they simply turn that person off from hearing the gospel later?
Yet on the other hand if we as Christians become fluffy-pillows who have no backbone and stand for nothing what will the world see in us? Will they not see us as lacking conviction and having nothing to stand for? If we are mushy and everything-goes sort of people with not a truthful-honest bone in our bodies even the comfort we attempt to offer the world will become meaningless. We must engage the world in a way that is both honest and loving.
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18–20)
We must love. Real love cares deeply. Real love cannot be silent. Real love must speak the truth. Real love listens. Real love rolls its sleeves and hurts alongside. Real love hugs. Real love hurts. Real love shares. We as the watchmen must have real love. We must not stop speaking the truth but we must continue to speak the truth in love. (Eph. 4:15)