For most of my life, I’ve been interested in knowing the truth — specifically God’s truth. This led me to attend Bible college, join churches and make Bible study a regular part of my life. I see the value of truth and how it influences every area of my life.
Likewise, I’ve lately been walking through a season of needing a lot of grace. And as I’ve received grace, and given it, I’ve discovered how big God’s grace truly is. It’s more massive than we can imagine and available to us at any moment, even when our own choices have led us down painful roads.
What would Jesus do?
When I was a college student, “WWJD?” (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets were all the rage. Mine was purple and I wore it proudly. It was a reminder of who I wanted to be and how I wanted to treat others. Consider how John 1:14 describes Jesus: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus came and dwelt among us — that has always been a comforting truth to me. But what was Jesus like? He was full of grace and truth. He wasn’t half-and-half or 40/60; He was 100 percent grace and 100 percent truth. As we emulate our Savior, that quality can be difficult to reproduce in our own lives.
In his book “The Grace and Truth Paradox,” Randy Alcorn writes:
“Truth without grace breeds a self-righteous legalism that poisons the church and pushes the world away from Christ. Grace without truth breeds moral indifference and keeps people from seeing their need for Christ.
“Attempts to ‘soften’ the gospel by minimizing truth keep people from Jesus. Attempts to ‘toughen’ the gospel by minimizing grace keep people from Jesus. It’s not enough for us to offer grace or truth. We must offer both.”
Through the years, God has given me many opportunities to give and receive grace. He has also prompted me to know and speak the truth. As I consider how I might follow Jesus’ example in balancing the two, here are some principles that rise to the top.
Recognize the true enemy. This year I’ve been captivated by the words of Ephesians 6:12 which say, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” So many of the struggles we face in life originate from the epic spiritual battle going on behind the scenes. Our enemy Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Unfortunately, he too often gets his kill.
When we view our sin and the sins of those around us in this context, we will see that Jesus and His amazing grace is our only hope for redemption. The Gospels often depict Jesus showing grace to sinners and having compassion for them. As we interact with the sinful, broken people around us, we must remember that we all have the same enemy and we all share the same hope in Jesus, the cross, and His resurrection.
Don’t minimize truth. Though we serve a Savior of unparalleled grace and compassion, He is also full of truth — the One Revelation calls Faithful and True. Many times, I’ve been tempted to tone down the truth of God’s Word on certain issues because it seems “unkind” to boldly speak a countercultural message. I am grateful for fellow believers who are bold and have challenged and encouraged me in this area.
As Christ-followers, we are called to live and speak unpopular opinions. I have heard amazing stories of God using the truthful words of a believer to lead another to saving faith in Christ. Jesus instructed His disciples to fear God more than man: “What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:27-28).
Don’t be the unforgiving debtor. Jesus told a story about a man who was forgiven a large debt. After the man left the master, he encountered another man who owed him a much smaller sum. Instead of showing the mercy he had been shown, the forgiven man fully prosecuted the other. When the master heard of this, he threw the first man in prison until he could repay his debt.
That story made a big impression on me. There is a link between receiving God’s forgiveness and passing it on to others. Through His Son’s blood, God has forgiven me a large debt. My sins may look different than someone else’s, but they cost Jesus just as much. That realization should inspire humility, gratefulness, and a desire for others to experience the same freedom and forgiveness I have.
Walking in grace and truth
As I’ve given thought to this concept of living out truth and grace, I’ve decided it is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. As we confess sin, stay connected to Jesus the True Vine, and keep in step with the Spirit, He will fill us with grace and truth. When we encounter a fellow debtor, we can point him to truth while also inviting him to experience God’s amazing grace.
As we live by truth and speak it boldly, we can also show others the grace that has transformed our lives and can transform theirs.
Copyright 2022 Suzanne Gosselin. All rights reserved.