I’ve been thinking about this topic for quite a while, especially since going on my personal retreat some months ago. It seems that many (or all) conflicts are due to a lack of Grace and/or Truth. Believers and unbelievers alike can be severely damaged by excessive focus on either one. A recent sermon I heard suggests that pride is the culprit. That sounds about right to me. It’s why relationships fall apart, why many people leave churches, why we wallow in self-pity or become habitually selfish, why we point fingers and try to “win” in any given situation.
I recently read “The Grace and Truth Paradox” by Randy Alcorn and I highly recommend it. I picked it up at a church service where he was talking about giving. From it, I not only gained a better picture of Grace and Truth, but also some insights that are helping me grapple with how to respond to life and relationships with both of these critical elements.
Each one of us is either Truth-leaning or Grace-leaning, whether we like it or not. Of course, most of us can go back and forth depending on the situation, but we still have a tendency toward one or the other. That’s just how we are! Turns out, we’re not perfect.
I am a Truth-leaner, and it gets me into trouble sometimes. I know people who are more Truth-leaning than me, and people who are more Grace-leaning. My husband, by his own analysis, is more Grace-leaning. And that also gets him into trouble sometimes. As Alcorn says “Truth without grace degenerates into judgemental legalism. Grace without truth degenerates into deceitful tolerance.”
I have often heard Truth-leaners say that the world needs more Truth. I have heard Grace-leaners say that the world needs more Grace. I have seen Truth-leaners blasting believers and unbelievers alike for the lack of Truth in their lives. Sadly, I’ve done it myself. I have seen the Grace-leaners blasting back at the lack of Grace. And I’ve done that too.
The reality is, they’re both right but in the wrong way. The reality is that we all need more Truth AND more Grace. We all need Jesus, who was and is full of Truth and Grace. He wasn’t half Truth and half Grace. He didn’t go back and forth between the two as approprite for the situation. He was perfectly both all the time.
On our own we are sinners, and by the Grace of God we are saved. But even more, we are made saints by His salvation and His continuing work in us. In that same way, yes, we are Truth- or Grace- leaning and on our own can make a big mess of things. But by the Holy Spirit we are being sanctified into the very image of Christ and will finally be like him when we meet Him face to face. And even more, His Spirit lives in us, and so we have the mind of Christ NOW!
Through the filling of that Spirit and our surrender to God’s heart, we can BE His Grace AND His Truth to a broken world. How amazing and powerful! That the God of the universe chooses us weak and broken creations to extend His Grace and Truth. He demonstrates His wholeness and complete and perfect love through us, His children.
This is what I’m learning right now: Not to be resigned to my Truth-leaning ways, but to embrace Grace and Truth and to depend on Christ in me, empowering me to be full of Grace and Truth in each situation. Of course, I’ll get in His way. That’s just how I am. The good news is that He’s changing me and isn’t done with me yet!
How can we respond in life and relationship FULL of Grace AND Truth?
- Begin to view Grace and Truth as a paradigm for living. Grace without Truth is worthless, and Truth without Grace is worthless. We should always approach Truth with Grace and approach Grace with Truth.
- Focus on both and rely on the Holy Spirit for empowerment. We need to be emptied of our selves and filled with the Spirit so that we can fully extend both Grace and Truth in each situation. Desire it! Pray for it! Ask God for it!
- Make a special effort in the direction we naturally lean away from. Truth-leaners need to make more of an effort toward Grace, and Grace-leaners toward Truth. Even when it’s uncomfortable.
- Know that we are not perfect, but Jesus is, and He’s working in and through us! Amen, am I right? 🙂
From Alcorn’s book, The Grace and Truth Paradox:
People need the directions of truth to know where to go. They need the empowerment of grace to get them there.
The world is weary of all the counterfiet Christs made in the image of grace-despising and truth-despising hearts. People thirst for the real Jesus. Nothing less can satisfy.
Grace and truth are His fingerprints.
We show people Jesus only when we show them grace and truth.
Anything less than both is neither.