Grace and Truth go together, perfect companions. Without Grace, Truth would be oppressive. Think about our traffic laws if there were no grace, no tolerance for going over the speed limit even a single mph. Truth without grace would crush us under its weight whether we’re talking the human made laws of this world or the spiritual laws of God. Truth without grace is tyrannical.
Grace without truth cannot even exist. Without the input of truth there would be nothing to measure, no consequence for anything would exist. No consequence to avoid. Grace without truth would be relegated to everyone deserves everything, no anchor. Without the companion of truth, living by Grace in isolation, we would always be disappointed because we’d think we deserve even more. How tragic when we divorce Grace from Truth and we end up focusing on everything that is wrong because we assume we deserve every blessing we can imagine. That’s grace w/o truth.
Grace and Truth are not opposites. They are companions blending perfectly together. As Jesus Christ perfectly practiced a life of Grace and Truth, may that be our aim: The judgment of truth tempered by grace, and grace anchored in the standards of truth. There is right and wrong. There is grace and mercy. Jesus Christ lived and practiced that amazing life.
Jesus did not leap frog grace and truth back and forth… he practiced both perfectly at the same time. I have a theory ~ a way to think about Grace and Truth characterizing the life of Christ. Last week Chad spoke about how Jesus was 100% God and 100% human, fully God, fully man. That’s how I think of Jesus character: 100% Grace, 100% Truth… beyond my understanding, Jesus lived both, always, together.
In the world we live, Christians tend to gravitate towards Grace or Truth. We all understand both a little bit, but our personalities, backgrounds, setting tend to make one dominate… tend to overlook sin or tend to withhold grace. We need both. Jesus brought grace and truth together as perfect companions. Jesus wants us to demonstrate both as well. But how? How do we demonstrate grace and truth without compromising the other?
The answer: we do both! (note: some of the applications below points come from a sermon, Full of Grace and Truth, by Randy Smith, 12/25/16) Practicing Grace and Truth is the way forward as we head into 2021, no matter what happens with corona virus…, we do both. Let’s help the needy, and at the same time promote a healthy work ethic? God wants us to help those who need help but the Bible also says those who can work must work. Often it’s the same person. Some people work too hard and need to accept grace…a lot of times the problem people have with accepting God is that they can’t accept grace!… Grace and truth. person by person. situation by situation. We need the leading of the Holy Spirit to know when to stand firm in truth, when to give what isn’t deserved.
- Imagine if we decided to dispense funds from our helping hand fund by truth alone. I can find a reason to NEVER help anyone... “you smoke, you gamble, you have an unnecessary storage unit, your car is too expensive, get your money in line with decent spending then we’ll help.
- What if we ran the helping hand fund by Grace Alone. We could never keep any money in the bank! We need wisdom and discipline to use our helping hand fund with grace and truth.
- Consider abortion. I believe the pro-life position is in keeping with God’s enormous value on life, that is truth, yet if we cannot find a way to be compassionate to mothers and families scarred by abortion, then we’re missing Grace. A 100% message of condemnation flies in the face of Jesus Christ coming to earth, full of Grace and Truth. If we ignore truth for the happy message of Grace
- To see grace come alive in the life of someone who knows they messed up is a most beautiful sight, the joy of grace rooted in the truth of God’s desires is awesome. Truth, discovering the wings of grace, is awesome.
- Jesus regularly spent time with sinners…he had a way of giving them the foundation of truth to point to a better way, yet he graciously accepted them as they were, warts and all. When a woman was caught in adultery, Jesus forgave, but He also said, "Go. From now on sin no more" (Jn. 8:11). Truth and grace. May the same message of truth and forgiveness, and loving people as they are, but telling them about the better way, characterize our relationships with people around us. Grace and Truth is a perfect marriage.
- Let’s find a way to oppose greed and abuses of our environment, while at the same time oppose godless forms of environmentalism? We can do both.
- Let’s share God's condemnation of all forms of sexual immorality, yet at the same time help with compassion those trapped in their choices? It’s beautiful to love people with whom we disagree, those suffering in addictions, those who have made a mess of their lives through a series of bad decisions. Grace and truth is how the lost are found, the discouraged find hope, the suffering are healed.
- Let’s stand for justice, while at the same time show forgiveness for those who sin against us knowing our offenses against God are always far worse? We may have the human right to get revenge, to shun those who offend us, but when we practice Truth and Grace, we can let go and let God.
- Let’s share the truth of the Gospel in our community, while at the same love those that reject our message.
- Let’s teach children and adults the Bible, the amazing stories, the insights into living by faith, while at the same time offer free meals, organize a free clothing bank, give ourselves away, with no conditions of having to join us in our faith.
- We can stand up for what is right, while doing it with gentle words of truth?
In Ephesians 4:15 we are commanded to "[speak] the truth," but the verse also says we are to do it "in love." Truth and grace!
It's not difficult to demonstrate either grace or truth in isolation. The lazy way is to stake a claim on one or the other: to practice the rigid sort of faith that thunders a message of condemnation for those that do not follow God’s Word, or the sort of Christian that says God loves is for everyone and no matter what you choose you are in God’s will.
What takes work is to be able to live both - grace and truth. Not like a faucet that turns from one temperature to the other, but like Jesus who always demonstrated both in every occasion ~ 100% Grace. 100% Truth. Live both. In everything we do seek to live by grace and truth.
Jesus came full of grace and truth. His message was neither total condemnation as a foregone conclusion or a message of tolerance and relativism. We must not choose grace or truth, but embrace both at the same time. I am convinced this is the way forward in our difficult world. It is the way of Jesus. Without truth, we lack courage to speak convictions. Without grace, we lack compassion to meet people's deepest needs…
I thought of a way to perhaps come close to understand Grace and Truth together. One of the wonderful gifts the church/world has been given is the song Amazing Grace. The title itself is inspiring because there is an innate knowledge of how needed it is. I suggest we sing the song substituting the word GRACE with TRUTH… (read v. 1, Hymn #318). We are so accustomed to singing Grace, when we sing TRUTH… how does that change the meaning of the song? READ v. 2, 3. My theory is this: as we begin to imagine the two versions of Amazing Grace and Amazing Truth meaning exactly the same thing, perhaps that will give us a glimpe of Jesus Christ who embodied 100% Grace and 100% Truth. As Jesus came that first Christmas-fully God and fully man-may we be like Him ~ Amazing Grace. Amazing Truth. “Twas truth that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.” Amen.