Grace and Truth

Posted on March 3, 2014 by


BalanceEach and everyone of us naturally operates somewhere along a continuum between grace and truth. Usually, we tend towards one or the other. Some people are very blunt and either don’t worry much about how others respond (it may feel like they don’t care), or they may not be naturally in tune with how others take what they are saying. Other people communicate in a way that seeks to build up and not tear down. It’s difficult for them to say the hard thing either because they are afraid of hurting people or they fear the rejection that may come in response to what they view as being harsh. As a result, we are often left walking away from conversations having either angered people or not fully saying what we intuitively know needs to be said.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

But if we take a look at Jesus we see that He was full of both. It was not one or the other. In our world of “either-or” this might be hard to comprehend.  However, John say it in verse 14 an we see it exemplified in the rest of the book. In fact, what we see is that the two things can’t be separated at all. Either one without the other is incomplete.

Grace without truth is really just fluff. It’s ignoring whatever issues or faults there may be and trying to make people feel good about themselves. It’s a false sense of goodness and self, ignoring reality. This always falls apart. There is no depth to it, and we begin to starve for more affirming words that will still leave us lacking. It’s like any addiction, hungering for more and more of something that can’t really satisfy.

Truth without grace, simply put, is death. It’s harsh and unfeeling, communicating right and wrong but not valuing people and relationship, and it becomes dogmatic. It operates as the law, which we can not satisfy, which condemns.

Jesus, in His glory, is the fullness of both grace and truth. The incarnation itself is the perfect picture of this. God knew and acknowledged the wickedness of mankind, but in becoming part of His own creation, He became grace to us. Both grace and truth become beautiful and powerful when accompanied by the other. Real grace with truth speaks to the deeper parts of us, telling us what we were made for and what we can become, all the while showing us who we are. It’s as if He holds a mirror to us so that we can see who we really are, and in the same instant see that He now stands in our place (2 Cor. 5:21). The crucifixion does the same thing. We see the truth of our ugly situation in the broken and battered Jesus, and we see the amazing grace of God in Jesus being there on the cross in our place. It’s all through the gospels. They are full of grace and truth.

There are two obvious applications to this in our lives.

1. We need to live in the grace and truth of Jesus in our own lives. It’s in acknowledging our mess and desperate need that we can experience the beautiful grace of God. The idea of confession is to acknowledge what God already knows and experience the forgiveness that He pours out upon us. So stop ignoring your junk. Jesus sure wasn’t ignoring it on the cross. He was paying for it. Live with the joy of being paid for, cleansed and redeemed from the pit.

2. We are called to become like Jesus, full of grace and truth to others. We’ll explore this more in my next blog post, but for now let me say that as leaders of people, this is one of the most important things we can develop. It’s hard, but it’s a vital part of developing people.

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