“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

Consider the difference between the “Jonah” preacher and the “Jeremiah” preacher. Apparently one would have thrilled at seeing Nineveh burn under fire and brimstone; the other wept as his beloved Jerusalem burned.

In my opinion, churches of Christ have got it right for the most part over the last 170 years or so. I am saddened and disturbed by those brethren who feel we have been wrong to call men and women back to the Scripture and restore New Testament Christianity, who think there is a better way, a more noble plea.

It’s important to be right; but we must do more than be right. We must be loving in our rightness, gentle in our proclamation of truth. We must aim to see people turn, not to see them burn. People don’t respond well to truth, spoken arrogantly and in unkindness. But gentleness is more than good psychology; it also communicates the way we value other people.

As Jesus once put it so sweetly, we must be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

We can’t afford to be repulsively right. We can’t win all the debates … and lose the soul.

Make no mistake, love without truth is not really love at all, it is misguided sentimentality; but truth without love is as abrasive as a high school football coach’s gravelly voice.

Love the lost enough to tell them the truth; love the truth enough to tell it kindly.