We value truth in evangelicalism because our faith and practices are grounded in God's truth. Francis Schaeffer called God's truth "true truth" and without a doubt there is much that passes for "truth" today that is anything but.

Truth, however, is a bit like dynamite. Handled carefully it is healing and helpful, as Paul said "useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17)." But, if mishandled, it becomes legalistic, a hammer that wounds, and hurts rather than heals. Especially when truth is applied without grace.

Jesus was all about truth. Jesus was also all about grace. The Apostle John says He was the perfect blend of grace and truth. Can you imagine what we deserve if God did not extend grace to us? Yet how often do we use truth without grace when dealing with others?

The account of the woman caught in adultery and brought to Jesus is a great lesson. The fact that she was guilty is clear by Jesus' words, "go and sin no more." Truth without grace would have said, "stone her." Grace said, "He who is without sin throw the first stone" and "go and sin no more." Of course, the guys who brought her to Jesus were not about grace, or actually truth for that matter as they conveniently forgot to bring the fellow she was caught with.

There are in the church men and women, like these fellows, who are self appointed theology and behavior police. Legalistic, moralistic and self assured of their right to point out the wrongs of others, using "truth" or scripture to push their agendas or make themselves feel good - at the expense of grace. Truth without grace is indeed a scary thing. The combination as seen in Jesus' interactions is a life changing paradigm. It is like the parable of the master who forgives his servant's debt only to have that servant go and demand payment from the one who owed him. Grace had been received but was not extended.

This is how the pharisees of the New Testament used truth. It was hard, harsh, devoid of grace and Jesus called them hypocrites because those who are most judgemental are most hypocritical as none of us can live up to standards of perfection. We are all in need of grace. 

Much conflict in the church and relationships comes down to a willingness to use truth at the expense of grace. It lacks the very patience, understanding, mercy and gentleness that God uses when He deals with us. The words may be truth but the attitude behind them has nothing to do with the attitude of Jesus. We are lucky that He does not do to us what we often do to others. I know churches with grace in their name whom are devoid of grace inside their own walls. This is when truth becomes toxic, damaging and harsh rather than healthy, healing and gentle. 

We are all guilty at times of allowing truth to become unhealthy because our attitudes toward others do not reflect the wonderful, gentle, caring, patient, merciful and abundant grace of Jesus. Handle grace and truth carefully and it is a beautiful thing. Mishandle it, and like dynamite it causes a lot of damage. As Jeremiah so aptly said in Lamantations, "Because of His great love for us we are not consumed (even though they deserved it)." Why then do we consume one another? Why do we so often choose not to extend to one another the very grace that God extended to us in Jesus? The short answer is sin. But when we extend that grace it is a beautiful thing indeed. Who in your life needs your grace?
  • Jan 29, 2012
  • Category: News
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