I’ve grown up in church, though there have been times in my life when I didn’t go very often. Growing up in church has given me the opportunity to learn a lot from God’s Word and to develop a strong understanding of the truths found there. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m an expert – even if I spent my entire life making an academic study of the Bible, I doubt I would ever be an expert. But I have a good foundational knowledge of the Bible. I also have a strong belief that it’s not my place to impose my values on others. I can’t necessarily point to the specific source of this belief in my life, but it definitely exists. I find that I often switch my frame of mind from one of these mindsets to the other – from making judgments based on the Bible to making judgments based on my belief that I shouldn’t hurt other people’s feelings. I’m rarely able to balance these two. And this is a problem.
As I wrote about yesterday, Jesus was the master at balancing Grace (showing kindness, mercy, and forgiveness) with Truth (unwilling to compromise the realities of God’s word). If our goal in this short life on earth is to work toward becoming more like Christ, then we must work on being able to balance these characteristics as well. It may seem impossible to balance them (it kind of seems that way to me), but my study today pointed out that grace and truth are fully compatible and can definitely coexist.
Grace and truth are meant to be expressed together, but like I mentioned above, they are often easier to express independently. The problem with this is that expressing only one of these characteristics drives people away from God. My study put it this way:
Truth-oriented Christians love studying Scripture and theology. But sometimes they are quick to judge and slow to forgive. They are strong on truth, weak on grace. Grace-oriented Christians love forgiveness and freedom. But sometimes they neglect biblical study and see moral standards as legalism. They are strong on grace, weak on truth.
Which one are you? Do you focus on loving others without trying to impose your values on them? Do you focus on following the commands in God’s Word to the point that it’s hard to accept others’ faults? Are you like me, and you exhibit both of these or even neither of these at different times, but rarely both at the same time? To be an effective witness to a dying world, and to display the real Jesus for all the world to see, we must learn to balance these characteristics. Both grace and truth are necessary for the world to see Jesus – without grace, we push the world away from Christ; without truth, we keep the world from seeing their need for Him.