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March 29, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the sentence of the Most High that has been passed against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people to live with the wild animals. You will feed on grass like cattle and be drenched with dew from the sky for seven periods of time, until you acknowledge that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men, and He gives it to anyone He wants. As for the command to leave the tree’s stump with its roots, your kingdom will be restored to you as soon as you acknowledge that Heaven rules. Therefore, may my advice seem good to you my king. Separate yourself from your sins by doing what is right, and from your injustices by showing mercy to the needy. Perhaps there will be an extension of your prosperity.”—Daniel 4:24-27 (HCSB)
A few years ago, I served with the toddlers on Sunday mornings with my mom. Going into it, I was ecstatic about spending two hours with cute, innocent babies. Man, was I in for a rude awakening! Although the children were indeed very adorable and affectionate, they too had a sinful nature that caused them to disobey, become angry, or not share. Consequently, I had to learn how to be both firm and loving when disciplining. The same applies to speaking the truth to someone. John Piper once wrote in an article, “Love shapes how to speak truth, and truth shapes how to show love.” The two do not oppose each other, they go hand in hand.
In 1 John 3:18 (NIV), the apostle John writes, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” We often focus solely on his statement to love with actions and tend to overlook the second, more challenging part which calls us to love in truth. However, we can’t have one without the other.
Daniel’s response to Nebuchadnezzar gives us a beautiful example of what it means to love in truth. Daniel never disrespected Nebuchadnezzar’s title. He always gave him the honor he deserved, and he spoke his words with sincere concern and empathy. He allowed the spirit of love that dwelled within him to guide him as he told Nebuchadnezzar the tragic significance of his dream and advised him to separate himself from his sins. Whether Nebuchadnezzar would listen to Daniel’s counsel or disregard it and continue living in his pride, Daniel did not shrink back from showing him love by telling him the truth.
Daniel’s balance of sincerity and boldness in speaking what the Lord commanded him to speak resembles the manner in which Christ loved others on earth. Jesus constantly extended grace and forgiveness to the worst of sinners, yet He also advised them to go and sin no more. In some of His final instructions to the disciples before being arrested and crucified, He gave them a new command: to love one another (John 13:34).
Though we live in a time where truth and love are frequently pitted against each other, may we, as the body of Christ, illustrate through our lives how God intended the two to work together.
DIG: How did Daniel speak the truth lovingly?
DISCOVER: What are some instances where Jesus speaks the truth in love?
DO: Next time you are in a situation where the Lord wants you to speak truth, remember to do so in love as Jesus did.