By Matt Dawson
Are we called to share GRACE with people, or the TRUTH? Sometimes these two ideals seem like polar opposites that demand we fully commit to one or the other. Some people strive to balance them out, with a little bit of truth and a touch of grace, but feel that it’s still ineffective.
Here is one of my favorite verses in the gospel of John.
“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.” John 1:14 (NIV)
I have always been the firm believer that when Paul tells us to “imitate Christ” (Ephesians 5:1) he is asking us to be FULL of BOTH Grace and Truth.
Jesus never shied away from telling people the truth. He told them they were sick and needed saving. He told them to stop sinning. He told them that even a lustful thought is a sin – even if you don’t do anything with that thought. He told them God hates divorce. He told them that marriage was when a man was joined with his wife as one. He told them that He was the ONLY WAY to God.
Jesus ALSO told them He loved them. He told them that if they followed Him, He would give them life to the full. He told them whoever understood how much they were loved and forgiven, would give away that love and forgiveness fully. He told them that generational sin wouldn’t stop the healing of God through Jesus. He told them that even though He had to go away, He would send another in His place that would allow them to do even greater things.
The FULLNESS of Grace and Truth is not a balance or compromise of these two ideals. It is both of them in it’s fullness.
This tension that exists between speaking the truth in love and loving people unconditionally (grace) is more powerful than choosing one over the other.
Jesus put this FULLNESS of Grace and Truth on display in the temple courts one day. The religious leaders drug a woman to the temple courts to stand trial for being “caught in the act of adultery” and brought her to Jesus. Here’s what happened.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:4-11
The woman was guilty, without a shadow of a doubt. Jesus told her to go and sin no more. TRUTH. But he also challenged those who were quick to want to cast judgement to consider that judgement on themselves first. When there was no one left to condemn, Jesus told her He would not condemn her either. GRACE.
For the remainder of my life, the fullness of Grace and Truth will be one of the most difficult things to experience. Most of the time I lean heavily towards GRACE. I understand and value the importance of Truth but if I’m going to be wrong in how I handle a situation, I’m going to be wrong on the side of Grace. However, I’m striving to be the FULLNESS OF BOTH.
Absolute Truth and Unmerited Grace = A Faith Worth Sharing.