Grace or Truth?
The Beatles had it right when they belted out, “ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE!” You’re welcome for that song being stuck in your head the rest of the day. But seriously, all we really need is love, right? 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. So love is God. When we love, we introduce God into the situation.
I once heard a sermon by a guy named Robert Madu who spoke about Jesus being 100% Grace and 100% Truth. John 1:14 says,
“So the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
We like to think in human terms and think He was 50% grace and 50% truth, and at times, like when He was overturning tables, He was 85% truth, and 15% grace, or when He forgave the woman caught in adultery, He was 90% grace and 10% truth. But Jesus wasn’t like that. He was saturated in grace and truth. All the time He was 100% truth and 100% grace.
All the time He was 100% truth and 100% grace.
I looked up grace in that verse in its original language and it means, “loving-kindness”. Jesus was filled with Loving Kindness and He was also filled with Truth. Showing Loving-kindness/Grace, earns us the right to speak truth into another’s life.
Let me give you an example from my own life. When my husband and I started going to church “for the kids”, I was not where I needed to be with the Lord and my husband wasn’t even saved. We were drinkers, and when I say drinkers, I mean we drank. A.LOT. So much I knew we probably wreaked of alcohol on Sunday mornings. We went to church about once a month or every 6 weeks…for 4 years. We had several couples our age that would make their way over to us and invite us to their Super Bowl party, or their Sunday School cookout, or whatever they were having that month, and we never went because we knew we couldn’t drink. (hello, drinking problem much?) Not once did these couples look down their noses at us and tell us we smelled, or tell us the truth--that our sin was going to take us to hell, or condemn us for not having our children in church each week, or, or, or, the list could go on for the multiple things we were doing wrong. They simply showed us loving-kindness. We got to know their names, their faces, and we felt their genuineness. They weren’t after money, or anything other than they truly made us feel as though they wanted to be our friend, in spite of our blood shot eyes, our constant excuses to say no, and our alcohol breath.
We kept being inconsistent to church, and they kept loving us. Finally, one day sitting in church the Holy Spirit got a hold of us and yanked our heads around like a Bobblehead in the wind. He showed us our lives if we kept going in the same direction. It wasn’t pretty. So we surrendered and, man, was it a surrender. Who do you think we turned to first? You guessed it. Those couples who never gave up.
Showing Loving-kindness/Grace, earns us the right to speak truth into another’s life.
We finally said yes and attended their parties, and then they spoke truth to us. Their lives spoke truth, their answers to our questions spoke truth, their marriages spoke truth, the way they interacted with their kids spoke truth, and their love paved the way for us to receive that truth.
As I write these words, although this scene was from 1998, my eyes still fill with tears, remembering how patient they were with our crazy, naive questions. They never made us feel stupid, or “outed” our sin. They walked real LOVE into our lives and He showed us the way.
We can’t look at people and tag them with their sin. I’m so thankful we weren’t tagged as drunks and discarded when we didn’t “shape up” after the first few tries. Our friends knew if they kept introducing God/Love/Grace into the situation, eventually doors would open to introduce Truth. By being patient, by continuing to love us, they earned the right to speak truth. To this day, some of these couples are the dearest friends we’ve ever had.
The next time you have to choose between GRACE OR TRUTH, ask Holy Spirit which path to take. Try grace, try loving-kindness as your first approach and see if it doesn’t pave the way for truth.
Grace or Truth is Entry ONE in May 2019's blog series, Grace Givers. What does grace mean to you? Share in the conversation below.
Sheila Harper and her husband, Jack, have been in full-time ministry at SaveOne since 2000. The couple planted a church in 2007 and pastored there until this past year when they resigned to devote greater time to SaveOne. Sheila and Jack have two adult sons and a brand new daughter-in-law! When asked what shaped her ministry philosophy, Sheila answered, "Pain. Plain and simple. I started SaveOne from a place of wanting to make sure others didn’t experience the same pain I did after an abortion. I wanted everyone to know the truth of what abortion really does to you." Sheila enjoys "hiking, drinking coffee, hiking, reading, hiking, hanging in my hammock in the woods, and hiking" when she comes across some free time. Sheila's greatest passion in ministry comes from seeing people be transformed from the inside out. "When a person walks in and doesn’t know Jesus, gives his/her heart to Him, lets themselves be discipled, and their life start to come together….I don’t know of a greater joy than that."