READ: Psalm 62, Ezekiel 19-21, Mark 6, Romans 13
Love inflicts pain, even as it does no harm (Rom. 13:10). True love repeatedly disappoints, hurts, confronts, refuses, and disciplines. This is certainly how God has loved us, and we should not expect to love others without hurting them. Love hurts but does not harm. God’s minister bears the sword, but not in vain (v. 4) and with the hope that long-term health will come from short-term faithful wounds. Silence can be cruel, and friends hold up mirrors and let the emperor know his zipper is down.
Ezekiel is commanded by the Lord to prophesy about a sharpened and polished sword (Eze. 21). This sword of the Lord despises the scepter (v. 13), does double damage, slays great men, and enters private chambers (v. 14). God’s ministers are told: Swords at the ready! Thrust right! Set your blade! Thrust left! Wherever you sword is ordered (v. 16). Those who represent Jesus are expected to be courageous in the wielding of His Word.
We try too hard to soften God’s truth. We know that we are take up the sword of the Spirit, but we turn the sword into an instrument of gentleness. Under what pretense is a sword ever used for comfort more than cutting? Even if the surgery is delicate, the knife still cuts, the sword still pierces. Various metaphors bring out the gentler aspects of God’s Word (light, seed to the sower and bread to the eater, God made flesh), but these aspects compliment; they do not diminish the reality of God’s Word as an instrument of war, attack, and offense. We are to have the truths of God condensed by life and words into attacking instruments that fear neither friend nor ruler, foe nor doubter. “And we do this,” the Bible says, “knowing the time, that the day is at hand” (Rom. 13:11).
The closer we get to the return of Jesus, the more important it is that our words are precise, true, sharp, and to the point. Times of terror and emergency do not allow the luxury needed for love by time. In crisis immediate action and instruction is the primary need, and love is expressed by shouting, shoving, pulling, pushing, pressing–not by a quiet, wordless multi-year demonstration. Love speaks. Love shouts. Love goes red in the face and cares not for appearances, perceptions, and debate. Urgent times do not allow for the luxury of dialogue. When ships are sinking, the loving shout out commands; they do not solicit feedback.
Every day that passes heightens the emergency of humanity. Every day brings us closer to the return of Jesus and final judgment. If we really love our neighbor, we will swing our sword at him. Not to harm him, but to hurt him in love.