I find it interesting that for almost every argument in all of Christendom, someone has argued the point that love is the most important thing, that God is love, or that, of faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love. How can this same argument be used for both sides of every disagreement? I think what it comes down to is we often fundamentally disagree on how best to love those around us.
The definition of love that my pastor likes to use is “to will the good of another” which, while simple and beautiful, leaves a lot of gray area regarding how we ought to act towards one another. In many instances, it’s self explanatory, don’t murder, steal from, or otherwise harm other people. In short, treat others as you would like to be treated. However, what happens when things become a little less clear and how I want to be treated is different from how you want to be treated? What happens when we act in what we think is someone’s best interest, but in reality, we’re causing more harm than good?
For example, what if I found out a friend was having a difficult time in her relationship with her husband and I decided to bring this up to my prayer group. I could see that as trying to help and being concerned for my friend’s well being, meanwhile, she could feel hurt and betrayed that I broke her trust. As another example, many Christians vote against same sex marriage based on their belief that such a relationship would be sinful and therefore decrease a person’s likelihood of entering Heaven. They do this (or at least claim to do this) out of love, but gay couples hoping to marry see it as rejection of their deepest selves, a dismissal of their rights, or plain hatred. When we claim to be doing something out of love, we need to honestly examine our motives and be sure what we’re arguing for is the truth and not an unexamined belief.
Now, that’s not to say that we can’t question someone’s actions and confront them out of love. I definitely believe there is a time and a place to broach the subject of sin in someone’s life, just make sure you don’t have a log in your own eye first. Also, make sure you and the other person are on the same page. People aren’t going to want to change their behavior if you haven’t first convinced them that it’s unhealthy/unbiblical and that distinction might not be as clear to them as it is to you.