There are times when the truth is hard; Situations where revealing the truth to somebody is unpleasant because of the circumstances. Pointing out to a good-hearted person that they are committing adultery and cannot continue in that relationship, for example, is no fun.
Sometimes, perhaps to avoid the difficulty of moments like this, people will suggest “I’d rather be loving than right.” It has become a catchphrase like “err on the side of caution” or “better safe than sorry.”
The trouble is, withholding the truth in unpleasant moments is not “better safe than sorry” or “erring on the side of caution.” It’s dangerous and potentially deadly.
A False Choice
What might be even more taxing than the refusal to acknowledge biblical truth on a matter is how “I’d rather be loving than right” suggests that a person can only be one or the other. It presents a false choice; as if you cannot deliver a hard truth in a loving way.
Before going any deeper, it’s appropriate for me to acknowledge two things:
First, the Bible commands that we speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We are to be thoughtful and tasteful in choosing our words (Colossians 4:6). If we do not speak the truth in love we’re falling short of God’s ideal. Period.
Second, most of us (likely all of us) have had moments in our lives where we have spoken from a motive other than love.
Maybe we wanted to win an argument or prove a point. Perhaps we wanted to look super-zealous. Whatever the reason might be, you’ve probably been there.
For my part, I admit that I have fallen short of God’s ideal at times. I have repented, asked for God’s forgiveness (Acts 8:22), and I strive to do better.
A Better Way
If I have the right information and the right motive, I can (and should) be loving and right. This is far better than an either/or proposal.
If balance were easy, everybody would do it. Since it is difficult we have a terrible tendency to drift to one extreme or the other. Romans 11:22 speaks of the goodness and severity of God; Can we talk about both or must we exclude the severity of God so we can spare the feelings of the lost?
When Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees he observed that they gave attention to some very small details but neglected the weightier matters of the law. Interestingly, he did not tell them to stop paying attention to the details, but to also note the heavier things: “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (see Matthew 23:23).
We need to strive for balance instead of creating false choices.
Critical Questions
Does being really friendly excuse error?
Is it really loving to withhold the truth from somebody because we are afraid it will offend their sensibilities?
The apostle Paul once asked “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). Despite all the love, sincerity, and care a man can muster sometimes the listener will still reject the truth. This hardly condemns the speaker for saying what needed to be said. 
A version of love that refuses to tell the truth is not genuine love. God has revealed the truth (John 17:17) and we cannot be ashamed of his words (John 12:48-50).
Let’s take the “or” out of the equation; I’d rather be loving and right!
By John Allan