Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Grace and Truth




Most people are either “grace people” or “truth people”.

“Grace people” find it relatively easy to overlook faults and errors in others, to be patient and kind, and to be gentle.  They tend to struggle if a situation calls for confrontation, correction, or bold proclamation.

“Truth people” find it comes naturally to boldly declare truth. They tend to be relatively comfortable confronting and correcting others.  However, they often have a hard time overlooking even small faults, and are not always gentle, kind, and patient, even in situations where such attitudes are called for.

The challenge for all of us is that God wants us to be like Jesus in our character and in the ways that we interact with people.  Jesus did not choose between grace and truth. He was full of both:

NIV John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Full of grace.  Full of truth.  That is what God wants our lives to be like.  This means that if you naturally tend towards being a “grace person”, you will need to seek God’s strength and courage to grow in “truth”.  And if you are more of a “truth person”, you will need to learn to practice more mercy, grace, and kindness. It’s part of becoming like Jesus.

Getting It Backwards

The situation is actually far worse than the fact that some of us need to work more on being gracious while others need to work more on boldly declaring the truth.  The deeper problem is that due to our sinful flesh all of us are strongly tempted to emphasize truth in situations where Jesus showed great grace, and we are tempted to speak gently and cautiously (if at all) in situations where Jesus used great boldness.

Jesus was very gentle with people who, in the eyes of society, were in some way below Him and vulnerable.  For example, Jesus was gracious and gentle with the woman at the well and also with the woman caught in adultery.  In general, Jesus was gentle and patient with people whom others looked down on as sinners.  I’m not saying that Jesus did not confront these people with truth, He certainly did.  But He did it in ways which were gentle.

But Jesus was not gentle in tone with everyone.  When confronting the Pharisees and religious leaders, He was often very bold.  Scary bold.  Read Matthew 23. Or watch this clip from the Visual Bible:





From a worldly point of view, Jesus was gentle with those he could have harmed and was the most bold with those who could (and He knew would) harm Him.

But we are tempted to be harsh with those “below” us and to avoid upsetting anyone who has power to harm us.  O Lord, give us strength and love and courage to be more like Jesus.

Verses to Meditate On

What can we do about this?  One of the main ways we can experience transformation and become more like Jesus is by meditating on Scripture.  I’ve included several verses under three categories. You will benefit if you focus most on the categories you fit into:

Category #1.  Verses for “truth people”, who need to work more on being full of grace:

NIV Philippians 4:5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

NIV 1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

NIV 2 Timothy 2:25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,

ESV Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

ESV Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Catergory #2.  Verses for “grace people”, who are sometimes timid and need to work on speaking the truth more boldly:

NIV Acts 4:29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.

NIV Acts 20:27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.

NIV Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

NIV 2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Category #3.  A verse for all of us:

NIV Ephesians 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.




A Closing Prayer, Some Questions, and Some Links

Lord, help all of us to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ and to live lives full of both grace and truth.  Help us to be especially bold and courageous when you want us to declare truth in a difficult and perhaps even dangerous situation.  Remind us to be kind, patient, and gentle when attempting to correct one another or make a point.  Help us all to speak the truth in love.

I am not the first to write on this topic. John Piper spoke on this topic here. Kevin DeYoung wrote an excellent article on this same topic here.

Below, feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.  Are you naturally more of a “truth person”?  If so, how has the Lord taught you to be kind and gentle?  Are you more of a “grace person”?  If so, how do you find courage when the Lord wants you to speak boldly?



Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

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