About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Balancing Grace With Truth  


Biblically speaking, grace and truth go hand in hand but keeping both in a Biblical balance is sometimes a struggle.  John 1:14 says that Jesus is full of grace and truth.  John 1:17 says that grace and truth came through Jesus.  I conclude that Jesus is the epitome of both grace and truth, and therefore is our example of how to extend grace without violating truth.


All of who Jesus was, is, and ever will be, establishes Him to be the epitome of gracefulness.  Despite our sinful nature, His death was the decisive display of undeserved grace directed to all of humanity.  Asking His father to forgive those who murdered Him, along with His interaction with all kinds of undesirables, gives us a brief glimpse into His gracefulness, but there is more. 


The very essence of Jesus is truth (John 14:6) and for that reason He could not violate the truth of the gospel in the process of extending grace.  While showing grace to prostitutes He confronted their sin by commanding them to stop sinning (John 8:11).  Unlike Jesus, the religious leaders of His day visited these prostitutes for the obvious reason.  Even though Jesus gave His life for these hypocritical Pharisees He did not hesitate to openly denounce them.  They were publically disgracing the God they claimed to serve and so Jesus could not allow their sin to slide by the wayside without some kind of public denouncement.        


The Apostle Paul imitated Jesus in this respect.  In Philippians 3 we learn that he forsook the good life to graciously serve those Jesus placed before him.  That being said, he had little tolerance for the public violation of the truth of the gospel.  He publically confronted Peter for his hypocritical violation of the truth of the gospel (Galatians 2:5).  In an open letter he condemned a Corinthian believer for his adultery (1 Corinthians 5).  Such blatant public displays of sin misrepresented the gospel of Christ and brought shame to the Body of Christ.  Paul could not allow such public violations of truth to deface the gospel or the church. 


The Apostle John spoke to this issue but in a slightly different way.  He said that we must love in both action and truth (1 John 3:18).  In other words, in the process of love we cannot step beyond the boundaries of Biblical truth.  If the truth of the gospel is ignored or compromised in the process of extending love and grace we fail to exercise real love.  If sin needs to be publically recognized, love demands we "speak the truth in love," something Paul said was part of the maturing process of a Christian (Ephesians 4:15). 


Knowing how to balance grace and truth for the sake of the gospel and the purity of the Body of Christ can be difficult to work through.  We often err to one extreme or the other.  Some of us clobber people with truth while others of us ignore the truth thinking we are extending grace.  I've seen the faith of Christians damaged by both of these extremes.    


Knowing when to extend grace and when to gracefully confront violators of truth takes prayer, Holy Spirit led wisdom and the input of trusted brothers and sisters in Jesus.  There is a Biblical balance between grace and truth.  Lord Jesus, for the sake of your gospel and the purity of the church, help us find this balance.     

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