"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." - (1 Corinthians 13:6, ESV)
After only three weeks of camps this summer I am so encouraged by the deepened hunger for truth that I have experienced during my time of ministry to students. Typically, camps are a bit awkward the first few days, at least for me as the 'Camp Pastor/Speaker,' because the students and adult leaders are still trying to figure out if they like me and if I have something to say that is worth listening to. I understand this, I'm the same way whenever I am being preached to by some dude I don't know.
As I was praying going into the summer I was very specific in my requests, which were (1) Lord give me words to say that are based upon your truth, and (2) Give the students and adults a deep desire for your truth, even if it offends their flesh. My hearts desire is to serve as a catalyst/encouragement to spur all of my hearers into deeper intimacy with God. However, as many of you know, God has given me a boldness to 'say it like it is' and a security resting in His love for me and that my approval of man is not my primary concern.
The first camp I was a part of was from a church that is only about 5 miles away from my house. I know the area the students live in and that the majority of them live in an affluent area of town. Typically, students who are, shall we say, more privileged, don't usually like truth. They often prefer someone to come in and re-enforce to them that they are the greatest and that the Cross of Jesus Christ was a reflection of their vast worth. The truth that the cross was a horrible reflection of our moral failure and God's justice being poured out isn't usually very well received. So, knowing this I was resolved to obey God and say whatever He led me to, regardless of whether they liked it or not, because I truly love God, I love His truth, I do not rejoice at wrongdoing, and I love my hearers.
It's amazing to me how many people today do not love truth. I'd be the first to admit that there are times where truth hurts, but when spoken with the intention of encouraging people into closer intimacy with God, it is done in love. Back to the first camp...
These students not only met with God that week, but they are truly lovers of truth! I said some VERY hard things over the course of the week and these students realized that what was spoken was true, and rather than trying to argue, they repented!!! To be honest, I was surprised yet very encouraged by what God was doing! As the week progressed their hunger for God's truth increased and their passion for Him was kindled in an increasing manner.
This was a huge encouragement! Love does not merely give permission or make excuses for the sins of others. Love calls sin what it is and points those who are living in sin towards the truth. We MUST as followers of Jesus ask God to give us an increasing passion and desire for His truth. We must become lovers of truth. After all, love loves truth. We must not delight in the wrongdoing being done by our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, rather we must delight in truth. This is only possible when we view sin as offending God and robbing those who are in sin from enjoying Him.
I think where we drop the ball as followers of Jesus is when we point out the sins of others with wrong intentions. If we point out sin in others just so that we can be 'right' or to feel better about ourselves, then we are not acting in love and in turn we become like 'clanging cymbals' (see 1 Cor. 13:1). Sin offends God, robs the believer, and it kills. Love delights in truth and consequentially points people away from sin and towards truth.
My friends from Kamp Kingsland, Horizon Camps, and FLM Camps are truly lovers of Truth. May God make us increasingly a people who do not delight in wrongdoing rather delight in truth. That is love...