One thing I have seen over the years that has baffled me is people who are really strong when it comes to knowing the Bible but weak when it comes to love.
I should say that it use to baffle me. Now I think I get it.
It’s very possible to be reading one’s Bible, to be active in church and yet fail when it comes to being transformed by the gospel.
What is the fruit of the gospel? Making sure others know you are right? Correcting the mistakes of others? Winning an argument? Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-23 that when a person is abiding in Christ the result is…
“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
I can say from personal experience that as I draw closer to Jesus my own sin becomes more and more painfully obvious to me. As I continue to press into the gospel I find myself amazed that Jesus would love and die for such a sinner as myself. This gospel immersion leaves my heart soft and broken and desiring to pour out the same grace that I have received to others. It also makes me incredibly patient with others because I know how patient God is with me every single day.
There will be times when we need to speak the truth into someone’s life but Paul was clear in Galatians 4:15 that our words of truth must be done in a spirit of love.
When I find that people are divisive, self-righteous, or just plain hard to get along with I know that they may be busy with religion but somewhere in their soul there is a gospel disconnection.
But it is possible to subscribe to every orthodox doctrine and nevertheless fail to communicate the gospel to people’s hearts in a way that brings about repentance, joy, and spiritual growth. One way this happens is through dead orthodoxy, in which such pride grows in our doctrinal correctness that sound teaching and right church practice become a kind of works righteousness. Carefulness in doctrine and life is, of course, critical, but when it is accompanied in a church by self-righteousness, mockery, disdain of everyone else, and a contentious combative attitude, it shows that, while the doctrine of justification may be believed, a strong spirit of legalism reigns nonetheless. The doctrine has failed to touch hearts. -Center Church, p. 73-74