“And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) Jesus is Truth. He is the Way and the Life.
Once we have become a new creation in Christ and have understanding of His grace and truth, how are we to live in this world? It is a world that is ungrateful, angry, full of rage, bitterness, unforgiveness, slander, violence - and the list could go on. The fact is we live in perilous times. And if we are not careful, we can very easily get pulled into this world’s rage, bitterness and unforgiveness.
But is the answer to our dilemma to return evil for evil? Scripture tells us it is not the answer. That would only add to the chaos around us. The Word of God tells us vengeance belongs to God. He will repay, and we don’t have to defend ourselves.
So, how are God’s people supposed to act and respond to a world in chaos? The answer to that question is two-fold – Grace and Truth. We are to remember to walk in grace and truth and extend it to others. Christ’s followers are to have no part in any ungodly behavior, regardless of what others do. We are to be people of peace, not confusion or evil.
Ephesians 4:31-32 teaches us to do this. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” Let’s break it down and see what that means to us individually.
· We are to be kind, treating others the way we want to be treated. I think most people want to be treated fairly and with respect and understanding.
· Then we are to be tender-hearted, not cold and callous to the needs of others, but looking beneath the surface of the anger and seeing the real problem. If we were in their position, we might be angry too. We need to refrain from jumping to conclusions about a person until we know the whole truth.
· Forgiving one another - We all need forgiveness from time to time. It’s easier to see what we have done wrong as a mistake that needs to be forgiven than it is to see it that way when someone’s “mistake” was against us. Even if they do something willfully against us, we need to pray for them and forgive them. The Scripture tells us to even pray for those who despitefully use us. That may seem hard, but it is God’s way, and He will help us to do it.
· So, why are we to be loving and forgiving? That’s simple. Because God has forgiven us. We don’t deserve it, but He loves us enough to forgive us. And He made a way for our redemption through Jesus’ sacrifice. Even when we were completely in sin, Christ loved us enough to die for us. We forgive because we are forgiven. Remember grace and truth.
So, in the middle of all this love, forgiveness, kindness and compassion, does that mean we just accept sin, cover it and say it’s okay? It’s no big deal? Absolutely not!
Jesus never backed down when it came to telling the truth about sin, yet He always extended grace to the sinner. Then it was up to them whether or not they received His grace. Jesus did not condemn people, but He spoke words that would convict them and turn them in the right direction.
Condemnation is a sentence passed on us that leaves us with no recourse – no way out. It’s a ‘done deal’. Conviction is a warning of the sentence that will be passed on us if we do not change our course. Jesus offers us a way out of the trap of sin that enslaves us. We are to offer that same grace to others. That is love.
Thank God for His amazing grace, but we need to remember the grace of God comes hand in hand with His truth. If we don’t share the truth about sin with others, and we just let them stay in their sin without knowing they can be free, we do not truly love them. Love balances grace and truth just like Jesus always does. So, what does that look like for us? How can we balance grace and truth in our relationships?
I think Max Lucado gave some wonderful examples in his book “How Happiness Happens”.
I want to use some of his examples from Scripture along with my own commentary. Each instance is an interaction between Jesus and a person who was living in sin or was still learning about who Jesus really is. They desperately needed grace, but they also needed to know the truth about sin so they could turn from it. Until they clearly saw their sin, they could not receive grace to remove it and walk with Jesus. Max used these examples from Scripture in his book.
In extending His grace to the woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus said, “neither do I condemn you”. He did not pass sentence on her. Yet when He told her to go and sin no more, He acknowledged she had sinned and needed to change her course. That was the truth she needed to hear along with the grace that was offered to her. If she stayed in her sin, His offer of grace would not be effective in her life.
Jesus offered grace to Zacchaeus (who was a cheating tax collector) when He invited Himself to his house. Zacchaeus had climbed a tree so he could see Jesus go by, but Jesus stopped, looked up and told him to come down because He was going to his house that very day. That extension of grace met with truth during Jesus’ visit and prompted Zacchaeus to give half of his belongings to the poor. By hearing the truth, he was convicted to restore what he had taken wrongfully.
It was by grace that Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. He took on the duties of a servant. Then He spoke truth to them. He told them to do as He had done to them. He called them to be servants and to drop all pride. They had actually been arguing about who was greatest in the kingdom. Jesus showed them that the greatest was the one who served others.
Jesus extended grace to the woman at the well when He offered her a drink of the everlasting water. He offered her hope from her hopeless life. But she knew that He was aware of the truth about her situation when He told her she had gone through five different husbands and was now living with a man who wasn’t her husband at all. She was overjoyed by the truth that set her free to reach out for grace. She immediately became a bearer of the news that she had found the Messiah.
Jesus never sugar-coated sin and never treated it as acceptable. Because the truth is, sin brings eternal destruction and that is what Jesus came to deliver us from. That is grace. But we also need to know the Truth before we can fully receive grace.
Jesus offers grace to those who will receive - grace to forgive their sins, and grace to help them walk in a new life, free from sin. If you don’t have that grace, you can have it right now. It requires acknowledging your sin. The fact that we are born sinners is the truth. Then ask Jesus to forgive you and cleanse you from your sin. He will do it if you really mean it. Then surrender your life to walk His way. You can receive His grace. You can be free!
There will come a day when final judgment will be passed on every soul. Those who have not received Jesus will be condemned for eternity. Those who have received Him will be with Him in His kingdom for eternity. But now we are in the day of His great grace. Jesus said He did not come to condemn, but to make a way for every person to come to Him and be saved. Learn the truth and receive His grace so that you can be free to enter the kingdom of God forever. Read the Word of God and ask Him to show you the Truth. He is extending His Grace and Truth to you right now.