The truth makes true love possible.

The hippie movement promoted the idea of "free love" without guardrail or principles. This has trickled down to our society's popular advice to "follow your heart." Some Christians even say it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you love people. Our world does not understand the truth about love.

The apostle John wrote about the relationship between love and truth in three letters. 2 John is a study in the doctrine of love and truth; 3 John explores their practice; and 1 John applies these principles to our understanding of salvation and assurance.

Love and truth are welded together from the first verse of John's letter: "to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth." (He addresses his letter in veiled terms, using the metaphor of a family to refer to a local church and its pastor, likely because of persecution.) Verse 6 gives a definition of love: obedience to God's commandments. The motive of a loving, discipling relationship in verse 12 is that the person may have full joy.

This short letter reveals three ways to know you are loving or being loved appropriately.

Truth is foundational to love.

John's own love for the church grew from truth. It had a context. Love without truth is sentimentalism and patronizing.

Love always has a motive. Love with a selfish motive can still be authentic but is extremely limited. Love expressed for the betterment of the one loved is still inadequate of fully representing the love that Christ has for the church. Love with truth minimizes drama.

All who know the truth love.

How is John confident that "all who know the truth" also love the Christians he is addressing? John can speak on behalf of all truth-loving people because godly love is based on truth, not feeling. Truth is the bond of fellowship and what makes Christian love so sweet.

Truth is unnaturally and awkwardly naked when not clothed with love.

The data of the Bible is given in the context of God's love. God communicates even hard truths for us to grapple with because they help us understand the height and depth of His love.

Abiding in truth is essential for maintaining brotherly love.

To abide means to go down deep inside something to become just like it. Our relationship with truth should be more than just hearing it and never experiencing it. God does not just tell us about His love; He does a work in us. When we hear the truth about our eternal destiny apart from Him, we are convicted of sin and our own responsibility. He enraptures us with His loving plan to provide Himself as a substitute. Not only did Jesus take the punishment we deserve; when we are born again, He gives us the Holy Spirit and a new nature. We are given the ability to walk in His commands, the highest expression of love for God.

Application Points
  • The Bible is God's expression of love to you. Read it! Study and dig in. As you learn more of what God has communicated to you, you will know His love and love Him more.
  • Do you define love by the truth of God's Word? Do you accept love in truth? You know you are being loved when you're being told the truth from God's Word.

Tools for Further Study

A Hymn to Encourage: "God's Word Shall Stand Forever"

God's Word shall stand forever,
The Bible shall prevail;
God's Word shall stand forever,
His truth can never, never fail.

For feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God,
Naught else is worth believing.

Tho' all my heart should feel condemned
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken.

I'll trust in God's unchanging Word
'Til soul and body sever:
For tho' all things shall pass away,
His Word shall stand forever.