All we say must be done in love. That is non-negotiable. But even what that means has been hijacked in some ways by the world, softness being mistaken for love. When called for, neither Moses nor the prophets nor Jesus nor Paul nor Peter nor even the gentle-hearted John (see 1 John 2:4; 3:8, or the 'arrogance' of 4:6) refrained from non-subtle, non-manipulating, non-face-saving words of piercing truth, spoken in love yet doubtless perceived as harshness. And note that almost all of them were accused of arrogance, even Jesus. Were they unloving? No; it was their love itself that fueled such penetrating language.
May we examine ourselves? Asking if, at times, what we deem to be kindness on our part is cowardice? 'I don't want to be seen as offensive' can feel like 'I want the best for my brother.' Self-guarding is mistaken for love. It is in fact love of self. The devil smiles.
Luther is a massive breath of fresh air in these things. Such defibrillating clarity. In the letter to Pope Leo X that prefaces Luther's The Freedom of a Christian, Luther says:
Now I will admit to attacking false or unchristian teachings. I have not criticized the bad morals of my opponents but rather their ungodly doctrines. I am not going to repent of this! After all, I am only following the example of Christ, who did not hesitate to call his opponents such things as 'a brood of vipers'. . . . And think of the stinging criticism of the prophets! However, our ears have become more finely attuned to the empty praises of the endless lines of flatterers. As a result, we protest when any of our opinions meets with disapproval. . . .Pride is frightfully pervasive, in my heart and yours. And this is a love-starved world. But let's be sure we understand what it means, truly, to renounce pride and love others.
Therefore, blessed Leo, when you read this letter and understand my intentions, I hope you see that I have never meant ill toward you personally. I have only the best wishes for you. I have no argument with any person with regard to morals. But I am unyielding when it comes to contending about the word of truth. In all other things, I will gladly yield, but I have neither the power nor the will to deny the word. If others view my motives differently, they either are not thinking straight or have failed to understand what I have said. (The Freedom of a Christian, p. 35)