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This week’s KLRC Words of Hope are from I Peter 3:15, which says in part, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

In this passage, Peter exhorts us to always be ready to explain to others why Jesus is the source of our hope. But then there’s that pesky “but” at the end of the verse: “BUT, do this with gentleness and respect.”

In today’s culture where strong opinions, heated arguments, and personal attacks on one another are the norm, doing anything with gentleness and respect can be exceedingly difficult. Let’s be honest – treating someone else with love when they’re not willing to do the same for you isn’t very easy or enjoyable.   

I’ve heard it said that as Christians, we are to balance love and truth. On the face of it, that sounds pretty reasonable. Love is important, truth is important, and therefore we ought to find a good balance between the two, right? But in the book Repenting of Religion, Pastor Gregory Boyd makes a great point: the idea of balancing truth and love implies that the two concepts are opposed to one another. And where did we get the idea that love in any way competes with truth? On the contrary, God’s love is the central truth of scripture.

That’s what makes this verse tough. Peter doesn’t ask us to balance sharing truth with loving others. Instead, he asks us to do both simultaneously. With no exceptions. Because we know the truth, we must be people characterized by love. And because we love others, we must speak truth.

Boyd sums it up well: “We are only ‘balanced’ in our understanding of love when we understand that it is the one thing we must live in – to all people, at all times, and in all situations. If we do this, everything else we need to do will get done. If we don’t, there’s simply nothing else worth doing.”