There are three things that are vital for church health and growth—things every church should desire for, and they are truth (2 Cor 13:8), charity (1 Cor 13:13), and unity (Ps 133:1).
Truth is vital because truth is life. When there is no truth, there is no life. For this reason, truth must come first. Where is truth? Truth is in the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 14:6, Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus is the truth and He is the only living and true way to eternal life.
Besides the Lord Jesus, what else is truth? John 17:17 says God’s Word is truth, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Jesus Christ is the truth and the Bible which is His Word is also the truth.
By knowing Jesus Christ personally and believing in the Bible sincerely, we will know the truth about life—where we come from, why we are here, where we will be going. Knowing the truth sets us free from the guilt of sin, from the evil of this world, and from the judgement to come. Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32).
If we refuse the truth, we live in a lie. When we live in a lie, we die. To those who reject the truth, Jesus said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.” (John 8:44–45).
Satan wants us to believe and live in a lie so that we will end up like him, in the lake of fire. Why follow Satan? He is very evil and wicked. Follow instead the thrice holy God who created us, even the Lord Jesus who saved us from our sins. Our God is a very good God because He is a God of love (2 Cor 13:11). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16–17). God wants us to live, not die!
Charity (Love) follows truth. 1 Corinthians 13:6 says charity “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth”. When truth is present, charity is happy. When you have Jesus and His Word in your life, you will know what love is and how to show it to others. The Apostle Peter enjoined all believers, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Pet 1:22).
Charity is vital, for without charity “I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:2). That is a profound statement by the Apostle Paul. What does it mean? It means “I am a loser, a big zero.” It can mean, “I am empty inside, without Christ and without life.” Consider what John, the Apostle of love, himself said, “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:10–15).
Simply put, if we do not love our fellow man, we do not know God. If we know God, have experienced His love and grace, His mercy and forgiveness, we will know how to love others and will show it. John’s brother, the Apostle James, himself said, “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well… What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (Jas 2:8, 14–17). If faith without works is dead, charity without works is dead also, for charity is love in deed.
Charity is something very good. It is love in action, love in relation to others. 1 Corinthians 13:4–7 tells us: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” As such, charity will not fail to produce good results, like unity.
Charity begets unity. This can be seen in God’s love to us through Jesus Christ: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Rom 5:8, 10). This reconciling love of Christ is a love that no one can put asunder (Mark 10:9). “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:35–39). In Christ, we are joined to God forever by His love and by His Spirit (Eph 2:13–22).
Unity is very precious and desirable, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps 133:1). As members of the body of Christ, we are not only united to Christ but also to one another. That was why the Apostle Paul exhorted, “[W]alk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph 4:1–6). This unity which is already present must be preserved by means of truth and charity. When there is truth and charity, there is unity.
Truth + Charity = Unity
Truth plus charity equals unity. When we believe the truth of Christ and live out the grace of charity in our lives, we will see unity in our homes and in our churches. When God is glorified in our midst, when His truth is believed (Mark 12:31–33, 1 Cor 10:31, Phil 1:9–11) and charity practised in the following ways: by speaking the truth in love, and not in a proud, arrogant, self-righteous spirit (Eph 4:15, Matt 7:1–5), being kind, tenderhearted, forgiving towards one another (Eph 4:32), doing things humbly without envy and strife (Phil 2:3), seeking always the other person’s good and well-being (Phil 2:4), we will see a wonderful union and communion in all our relationships and interactions.
Such a blessed unity was experienced by the early church as seen in Acts 2:41–47, which resulted in the growth of the church and the extension of God’s kingdom, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
When the church is united in truth and love, it will be a church most joyful and peaceful. It will be a real blessing to people and they will want to be part of it. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35). Can we be such a church? May the Lord help us.
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