And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we behold his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth (John 1.14)
When Jesus lived on planet earth, He was full of grace and truth. Not full of grace, that’s not Jesus. Not full of truth, that’s not Jesus. Jesus is full of grace and truth. Knowing this is very important, and what we need to do to be wise is to consider how to act and live full of both grace and truth. To just show grace is unbalanced, to just show truth is unbalanced, to show neither is foolish, but to show both is true life.
Truth without grace is very very dangerous. Truth without grace would kill all of us! Let’s face it: how many of us really obey the Word of God and do what God says? How many of us walk in love all the time? How many of us walk in perfect forgiveness of those who wronged us. If all we had was truth, we might as well give up now. The Psalmist said: “if thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who should stand?” (Psalm 130.3). If all we have is the truth then we are in all people in the worst mess in the world!
Grace without truth will never change someone’s life. We need to be honest with people and talk the truth, but we have to have grace and truth together.
We have to walk in the balance of grace and truth, and treat others with the balance of grace and truth. When we treat others with truth and grace together, we are acting like Jesus. That’s when we make discipleship.
That’s when we change lives. It’s not easy to operate in this balance, but by looking at Jesus and accepting him as our wisdom we can.
Now there are many incidents from the life of Jesus (as you would expect), and we could talk about many of them, but for me the most powerful incident where we see Jesus modelling a balance of grace and truth is in his dealings with Peter, and nowhere is it more vivid than the incident where Peter tried to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross.
Peter tells Jesus that he won’t let Him die, not because Peter was heroic or balanced, or wise, or amazing. It wasn’t because Peter knew best. He wasn’t there to tell Jesus how to behave, he was there as a disciple to learn. No – Peter didn’t grasp Jesus’ mission, Peter didn’t see the resurrection and didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. He was being influenced by satanic plans and ways of thinking.
So when Peter challenged Jesus, Jesus said “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense to me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16.23).
That sentence is truth. Jesus knew the truth about Peter – Peter was the guy who fell asleep in the prayer meeting, Peter was the guy who denied Christ, Peter was the guy who sank walking on water because it was windy, Peter was the guy who almost didn’t advance the church because he was racist. He knew that Peter was listening to the devil because of his limited mind.
That’s the truth. And let’s not be afraid of the truth. Let’s not be afraid to tell the people we are discipling (and I mean people we have a deep relationship with, not the random guy on Facebook whose post you don’t like) the truth. Let’s tell them when they are acting like the devil, like they are acting like a fool, like they are sowing to the wind and will inevitably reap the whirlwind. Let’s not be afraid of the truth!
But knowing the truth, don’t use the truth to know people down. Don’t use the truth to kill people, use the truth to help and love people. Truth points out what is wrong with your today, but grace gives you the power to be something bigger tomorrow.
Jesus didn’t kick Peter to the curb, he didn’t throw him in the dustbin, he kept showing grace even in the face of the truth. Jesus knew the truth, knew He would be let down, knew Peter couldn’t be perfect, couldn’t be strong, couldn’t be consistent, yet He still kept Peter on the team.
Jesus knew Peter would betray Him in His darkest hour. He knew Peter, when his plans for ministry didn’t go the way he wanted, would run back to the fishing boats. He knew that – but the glory of Christ is not filled with truth, the glory of Christ is that He is filled with grace and truth.
And by continually holding grace and truth up to Peter, Jesus enabled Peter to grow, to develop, to mature, to change. And eventually Peter became one of the greatest leaders in the church. That is the power of grace and truth mixed together.
Know the truth, but operate in grace. Never find out what truth says until you can find out what grace says. Be full of grace and truth and be glorious! Build a church full of grace and truth and it will be glorious!