If you are like most humans, speaking the truth is done only one way – with vigor, sometimes frustration, maybe even anger. We don’t know how to speak the truth any other way.
Why is that? Because truth is combative. It is pushing back on lies. It is casting light on darkness. Truth challenges falsehood… and corrects error. When we feel the need to speak the truth, it is because we see or hear WRONG and we feel compelled to make it RIGHT! If there is nothing wrong, there is no compelling reason to speak out.
God, however, approaches truth in a different way. He speaks it in love. With patience and grace. This is especially true in the New Covenant era. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1).
Truth is combative. It is pushing back on lies. It is casting light on darkness.
John’s Gospel begins with these words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And 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” (John 1:1,14).
Jesus was full of grace AND truth.
Grace people are kind, patient, but a little wimpy. Truth people are strong leaders, unafraid of conflict, but often brash.
Let’s face it. We struggle with this.
We recognize people who are full of grace – they tend to be really nice people, always kind, always patient, a little bit wimpy, kind of a “Yes-Man.” Sort of a pushover.
We also recognize people who are full of truth – they tend to be opinionated, have strong leadership qualities, and are not afraid of confrontation or conflict. When we are sick, we hope grace people will visit us in the hospital. But when there’s a campaign to be engaged, and a right to be wronged, we want a truth person out in front.
But how does grace and truth flourish inside the same person? That is more difficult. Yet, that is Jesus! The Psalmist predicted this when he declared, “Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed” (Psalm 85:10).
As Christ-followers, as those in whom Jesus dwells by His Holy Spirit, we better get this right.
If we don’t, we will forever live with internal conflict – our personality will wrestle with Jesus’ presence – and we will continually misrepresent Him to the world. Jesus wants to behave differently, and He is trying to get out there! If you are too grace-oriented, Jesus wants to help you engage conflict more and speak out against wrong. If you are too truth-disposed, Jesus wants to help you temper your combativeness with a kinder delivery.
Face up to your truth or grace preference, find your opposite and let that person coach you while you coach them right back!
My wife and I had to learn this in our marriage. She was the truth-teller and I was the grace-guy. The first few years of marriage we enjoyed the novelty of the other’s style. I thought her outspokenness was cute and she thought I was nice! Ten years later we had grown to resent and disdain each other. Hate might even be a better word. I grew tired of her brashness and she thought I was a coward. We faced a tough choice: dig in and insist my way is the RIGHT WAY and end in divorce court followed by a lifetime of excuses and blame-shifting, or start listening to and learning from each other. We chose the latter. I learned how to be more assertive and she learned how to control her tongue. Today, we know that the DELIVERY of a message is just as important as the MESSAGE itself. Jesus lives in both and does grace and truth with excellence!
Now, my wife and I practice “speaking the truth in love.” Well, most of the time. And, the other times – behind the wheel in traffic, when we are tired or don’t feel well, or when we are faced with a challenge to our beliefs – we hold each other accountable for our behavior, in our marriage and in our public life.
My challenge? Face up to your truth or grace preference and let Jesus teach you His ways. Stop making excuses for your behavior. Surrender to His Lordship. He lives inside of you, so LISTEN! Let your spouse help you! If you are single, find your opposite and let that person coach you while you coach them right back! Together we become more Christ-like… and the world hears and sees the Gospel in a better way – the TRUTH spoken in LOVE.