I am convinced that an understanding of how Jesus related to people is critical to our own interactions - at least as believers. There are four Gospels which is maybe a sign that we were to pay attention to them.

It is intriguing that we read in John 1:14 that Jesus came full of grace and truth: in that order. My observation is that those who claim to be Christ-followers love "truth." Just read social media and listen to those who share their thoughts in social media spaces. There are plenty of our versions of the truth. I say versions because not everything we call truth is actually God's truth. But absent all too often is grace.

Unless he was speaking to the Pharisees who were serial grace killers and legalists, Jesus negotiated conversations with amazing grace. Take the woman at the well in John 4. She was an individual with a broken life, living in immorality and deeply in need of truth. Jesus engages her without judgment and with amazing grace. He acknowledges her brokenness but did so in a way that did not scare her off or shame her. 

In fact, even though he acknowledged her brokenness, she promptly went and called her village to come and meet this man. She said  “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him." Now she would never have done this if Jesus had not led with grace rather than a harsh truth.

Truth without grace is not Jesus yet we practice it all the time. We judge others for their sin, we say things that lack the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we treat people poorly as if we have the moral right to do so and we do it in the name of God. I suspect that when we do so we are not speaking for God, and certainly not like God. Those of us who know Jesus only know Him because He showed us grace - amazing grace and invited us to Himself.

The lack of grace and the focus on truth and our requisite judgmental attitudes is a large reason that people are not attracted to us, to our congregations, and ultimately to Jesus. He came to us full of grace and truth. People may listen to truth but generally only when that truth is full of grace. As Gandhi famously said, I like Jesus but I just don't like Christians. He did not see them as nice people.

I have been the recipient of harsh truth as well as amazing grace by others. Which of those do you think healed my heart? Which of those do you think encouraged me to look again at Jesus? I would guess that you have had the same experience. I would also guess that you can name those who treated you like Jesus did and those who didn't.

Growing up in an evangelical tradition that majored in truth at the expense of grace, I have been more and more attracted to Jesus and His example in the Gospels of speaking truth saturated with grace. Remember, He came full of grace and truth - in that order.

How are you doing in relating to others on the basis of grace before truth?

TJ Addington is the lead at Addington Consulting. We solve dysfunctional cultures and teams and help you build healthy, scalable organizations of clarity, alignment, and results. If the pain is high, you need Addington Consulting. tjaddington@gmail.com
  • May 08, 2022
  • Category: News
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