Although it doesn’t change the flavor or nutritional value of the food, a meal is sometimes more enjoyable if it is well-presented and served with a smile. Similarly, the way in which you hold and communicate spiritual truth impacts how it may be appreciated by others. Unlike our culinary example, however, it is not a matter of extravagantly presenting spiritual truth to make it seem better. Truth is beautiful, and it doesn’t need to be dressed up for marketing purposes. If we grasp God’s truth in a thorough and balanced way, we will display its beauty. If we only value some portion of God’s truth, we might attempt to angrily drive our particularly cherished aspect of truth into someone else’s head, using our own hammer and a large nail, hitting it over and over. This is not so beautiful.
The body of Christ is built up by “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15). To be built up requires a foundation that is durable, firm, and trustworthy. That is spiritual truth, and that is why we have stressed its importance the last two months on this page. Entertainment, Biblical froth, and hip music, even if presented with love, are not sufficient for a firm foundation. Our verse does not merely call for love, but for “speaking the truth in love.” God’s truth is always healthy, and it builds us up. But sometimes there is distaste for God’s principles. Why is that?
Problems arise when ideas of man are presented as if they are divine truth. It’s as though you have been told that the potatoes on your plate have come fresh from a local farm, along with the corn, carrots, and pork, but it turns out those “potatoes” owe their origin more to a laboratory and came in a box in powder form. “Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7) is most unhelpful to our appreciation of true doctrine. A second source of problems is the influence of the world. The world’s platters diabolically alter your taste buds, making you suspicious of anything that taste likes solid truth, especially if it is served in an authoritative way. This is also unfortunate and must be countered with a good spiritual diet. A third reason for people’s distaste of truth is how it is communicated to them. Is it served in love, on a plate of grace?
Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it is served on a plate of pride. More than that, the plate is just dropped in front of you, without a smile or a word of explanation. Now comes the hard part. The presence of fake potatoes, or the wrong way in which that dinner was served, does not mean everything on that plate is bad. The responsibility for humility and love lies, not only with the server, but also with you. Don’t arrogantly send the whole plate of food back because it is served improperly. There is still good food there that can help you. The absence of love in the communication of truth, while wrong, does not turn that truth into error. When listening to preaching, we are told to “test everything; hold fast what is good” (1Thes 5:21, ESV). Don’t let other people’s mistakes weaken your grip on God’s truth.