Have you ever run into someone who claims that as long as they love God and confess that with their mouth that they are ‘saved?’ They are quick to tell you that ‘God is love’ too! This claim of ‘love’ apparently invalidates any need for discernment or judgment. People take the verse, “love covers a multitude of sins’ literally. They take it to the bank that we should not ‘judge lest we be judged!’ The reluctance to speak against sin and removal of the authority of Torah is lauded as tolerance and ‘love.’ But is that really love?
Maybe you used to be among those who bought into this love doctrine. We have all been so conditioned to Yeshua’s teaching on the ‘greatest’ commandment, that we disconnect everything else in the name of ‘love.’ After all, as long as we love God and love our fellow-man we are fulfilling the law!
Yeshua said so! Right?
In the name of ‘love’ the church has embraced all manner of sinful behaviors, as if speaking to correct error is somehow not an act of love. The definition of ‘love’ has become ‘tolerance’ for everyone and everything! We have un-repentant homosexuality, adultery, pornography, divorce, living together outside of wedlock, teenage pregnancy and a host of other destructive and un-Biblical behaviors found in our society and inside of our churches and synagogues! Everyone is welcome, because we are all ‘sinners’ and, presumably, it is not demonstrating ‘love’ to mention it.
“Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory. Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”~ Fulton J. Sheen
So, if intolerance for error is the firm foundation, why do we think the God of love is tolerant of everything?
What does scripture say about our foundation?
Eph_1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
1Ti 6:18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
2Ti_2:19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
The question arises then: How do we ‘depart from iniquity’ if we do not rely on His instructions to be our guide? If a good foundation is laid upon our exhortation to ‘DO’ good works, then is ‘love’ enough?
IS LOVE TOLERANT?
What is YHVH’s purpose in defining sin for us? At its heart, sin is destructive behavior that hurts you or someone else. When we understand that Torah is our fence of correction, protection and direction, we also understand that it was given to us for our good! It was given to show us how to love YHVH and how to love each other! It is truth! It is action!
Is it acceptable to let someone continue in ignorance and stunted growth? Is turning a blind eye to behaviors that are clearly sin (self-destructive) the way to demonstrate love? Where does love begin?
Yeshua said, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments.’ (John 14:15)
I believe that the book of Revelation is a message for us today. The church of Laodicea, in particular, describes our western church culture. ‘Those with ears to hear’ should pay attention to this:
Rev 3:17 “Because you say, ‘Rich I am, and I am made rich, and need none at all,’ and do not know that you are wretched, and pitiable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
Rev 3:18 “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so that you become rich; and white garments, so that you become dressed, so that the shame of your nakedness might not be shown; and anoint your eyes with ointment, so that you see.
What ‘Gold’ is Yeshua speaking of in Revelation?
Psa 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, standing forever. The judgments of the lord are true; they are altogether righteous. 10 They are more desirable than gold, even much fine gold. They are sweeter than honey, even the drippings from a honeycomb.
Psa 119:127 I truly love your commands more than gold, including fine gold. Instruction that comes from you is better for me than thousands of gold and silver coins.
Pro 30:5 Everything God says is pure; he is a shield for those who take refuge in him.
THE MIRACLE WORKER
Revelation 3:17 reminds me of a profound example of how someone who was blind, deaf and dumb was brought into the light by the loving discipline of a teacher who would not allow her to remain in her pitiable state. I am speaking of Helen Keller, and although she began in tragic and seemingly impossible circumstances, she arose to become a college graduate and person of influence. But it wasn’t without discipline!
I recently went to see the play, “The Miracle Worker” which dramatizes the story of how Anne Sullivan was able to reach Helen Keller. Helen, who was almost seven years old, was in a ‘pitiable’ state! She was unable to speak and was living an almost animal-like existence with her family. The entire household allowed extreme behavior from Helen because they were at a loss to know how to help her!
How could they reach her when she could not see and could not hear? So, Anne Sullivan was employed as her teacher.
It didn’t begin well!
Up until Anne entered the scene, Helen had been allowed to behave like a feral animal. She foraged from everyone’s dinner plate and whenever she became frustrated a temper-tantrum ensued. Her mother’s love for Helen was animated by pity and the inability to discipline her in any significant way. Tantrums and misbehavior led to hugs and peppermint candies from her mother who knew no other way to distract the wild-child.
Anne, on the other hand, determined to teach Helen proper behavior and how to communicate with sign language (by spelling words into her hand as she could not see). The war between Anne and Helen is highlighted by an all-night battle of wills over how to behave at the dinner table. After a very physical struggle over who would prevail, Anne finally gets Helen to fold her napkin.
Anne could see that she’d never be able to reach Helen, or teach her anything, as long as the child could depend on her family to be tolerant of her outbursts and undisciplined behaviors. So, Anne sought a three-week one-on-one encounter with Helen.
In a secluded setting, away from all other distractions, Helen had to be totally dependent upon Anne. Anne was patient, but unyielding. And, eventually, the ‘hated’ teacher became Helen’s best friend and life-long companion.
What has this got to do with the price of tea in China, you ask?
It struck me that everyone ‘loved’ Helen. Her family, each in their own way, tried to do what was ‘best’ for her. Mother, especially, indulged the child. Since she didn’t know how to deal with her daughter’s dark and silent world, she did the only things she knew how to do – she applied hugs and peppermint!
Unfortunately, tolerance and indulgence didn’t help Helen to become the person she was created to be. Helen’s story is a triumph of victory over adversity, but it all began with a teacher who didn’t allow Helen’s disability to give her license to abuse others or remain uneducated and self-centered.
INTOLERANCE IS LOVE
In the case of The Miracle Worker, Anne’s love was demonstrated by her ‘intolerance’ for destructive behavior! Anne determined that intolerance for anarchy was the only firm foundation upon which to bring Helen out of darkness and into life!
There is no doubt that Helen’s parents loved her! But, love was not enough! Only love like that expressed by Anne was able to truly help Helen to grow beyond the animal-like existence that flourished beneath the umbrella of ‘love’ and ‘tolerance.’
LOVE AND HATE DEFINED
According to Scripture, “Whoever does not discipline his son hates him, but whoever loves him is diligent to correct him.” (Proverbs 13:24 )
It is Proverbs that gives us expressions like, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”
Pro_23:13 Don’t withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with a rod, he won’t die.
Pro_23:14 Punish him with a rod, and you will rescue his soul from Sheol.
WHAT ROD? WHO NEEDS IT?
Once we understand what the ‘rod’ is, we can easily see that we all need it!
We find the rod in one of the most beloved verses in scripture. Psalms 23 says “Even when I walk through a valley of deep darkness, I will not be afraid because you are with me. Your rod and your staff—they comfort me.”
Certainly, the deep darkness that was Helen Keller’s experience was illuminated by the rod and staff of her determined teacher, Anne. I cannot imagine how terrible was her existence before Anne Sullivan was able to teach Helen how to escape her prison of being deaf and blind so that she could communicate in return! What a comfort it must have been to Helen to at last be in control of herself and her life!
We know that our Father sent us a Shepherd. A shepherd uses his ‘rod’ to keep the sheep on the correct path. It is used to guide and to rescue! It is what the shepherd leans upon, and what keeps his feet steady upon the path as well! It is a comfort to know that He it is who guides our way! But, how are we to understand what the ‘rod’ really is?
Its function tells us!
The shepherd’s rod steadies him as he walks. It is indispensable for his job leading the sheep. He uses his rod to instruct, protect and guide the sheep. (Sounds a lot like the Torah given for our protection, direction and correction, doesn’t it?)
The Torah is to guide YHVH’s children, just as the rod is to guide the sheep.
Pro_22:15 A child’s heart has a tendency to do wrong, but the rod of discipline removes it far away from him.
The dramatic climax of ‘The Miracle Worker’ is when Helen is finally able to make a connection between the water coming out of the pump and the word w-a-t-e-r spelled into her hand. And with that connection, her life was never the same. ‘Water’ was the key to learning how to live!
And it is the same for us. We are so like Helen in the church today. We are blind, deaf and unable to communicate. And, without a teacher, we will remain so.
Helen’s life began with the water.
Helen didn’t stop when the pump water washed away her confusion. She learned that water was just the beginning. Upon that revelation, the entire world became recognizable. Everything had a name and her vocabulary exploded, along with her understanding.
Helen was lost until Anne forced her to ‘hear what she could not hear’ and ‘see what she could not see.’
Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan were life-long friends for nearly 50 years. Because Anne saw that true love was in discipline! She corrected Helen’s behavior by teaching her the truth, and with that truth, Helen’s future took on direction and purpose. Because Anne refused to yield to pity she saved Helen’s life!
SO, WHAT ARE WE TO DO WITH THIS METAPHOR?
Take a few minutes and read some of the verses that speak of being blind or deaf. What does Scripture say about having eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear? We are all like Helen Keller when we refuse to see or hear what YHVH is teaching us.
Many in the church today say, ‘Jesus fulfilled the law so I don’t have to.’
What if we applied this adage to the life of Helen Keller? Helen could have said, ‘Mother does everything for me so I don’t have to.’ But would that have been a benefit to either Mother or child?
Many say, ‘God is Love.’ But, in the life of Helen Keller, who truly loved her? Or, more precisely, what kind of love was of the most benefit to her? What helped her to grow and learn? A peppermint? Or a knock-down-drag-out fight with her teacher?
What kind of love do we receive from YHVH?
Rev 3:19 “As many as I love, I reprove and discipline. So be ardent and repent.
Isn’t it time we stop expecting YHVH to be the indulgent, tolerant parent? Isn’t it time we recognize that real love is accompanied with discipline? Isn’t it time that we understand that love is a two-way street?
ISN’T IT TIME TO SPEAK THE TRUTH?
In his book, Midnight Approaches, David S. Jesse recounts a profound discovery he made while on a tour of Israel. At the Garden of Gethsemane he removed himself apart from the group and identified a feeling that had for days been bothering him. This is what he says:
“Now, in a garden famous not only for the prayer of my Savior, but for the silence of His Father, that feeing turns to anguish. I come to realize that we have been spending the past week talking almost entirely about what God could do for us, and very little about what we could do for Him. It is here, in the garden, that I see that modern Christianity has lost its focus, and what Jesus intended for the Church is no longer even visible.” (page 8)
What is the purpose of the church? Is it just the recipient of YHVH’s love and pity or is there more to it? David S. Jesse seems to say, ask not what YHVH can do for you; ask what you can do for YHVH.
This is summed up in the following verse: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc 12:13)
Isn’t it time that we return discipline to our assemblies? Isn’t it time that we speak the truth in love? Isn’t it time that we allow the Father an opportunity to remove the scales from eyes, and unstop the ears of the deaf, by standing up and speaking His Word?
Let us not compromise. Let us each take a lesson from Anne Sullivan and remain vigilant, strong and unyielding when it comes to the Word of YHVH.
Is it love to do anything less?