I’m a both and kind of girl. It’s both coffee and chocolate. It’s both chocolate cake and chocolate frosting. I can’t separate the two. I mean, I can, if I have to, but I’d prefer not. But those are the easy both/ands. Those are the ones that I can take and run with that don’t make me squirm or feel twitchy inside.
It’s the ones that challenge our pet preferences, especially when it comes the Bible, that make us twitchy. Everybody has them, so when one of the both/ands rub up against those preferences, which we often disguise as biblical truth, we get. . . twitchy. You know, that squirmy feeling we quickly ignore, but keeps coming back and so we drown it out with busy? Yeah, meet twitchy.
Grace and Truth
Grace and truth is a both/and kind of deal, and it’s easy to get twitchy about them. Our human tendency is to lean slightly one way or the other. We extend so far to the grace side that we forget to bring truth right along. Or we run so fast with truth as a weapon that we leave grace back there at mile marker 3 while we’re at mile marker 20 brandishing our sword.
The two can’t be separated, it’s when we try to separate the two that we create legalism and liberalism. Both prevent the Holy Spirit from truly accomplishing his work in our lives. So what do we do? How do we stop this separation of grace and truth?
John 1:16-17 “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
For starters, we focus on the personhood of Jesus Christ. Who was he? Why did he come? Why should I follow him? We can answer these questions by starting at the beginning. Jesus is God in the flesh. He came to show us the way to Father God and following him is the absolute best, most remarkable decision you can make. Not so that you have a “genie in the bottle,” but so that you have the hope of heaven in your heart, which makes every trial or burden in this life a mere stepping stone into the presence of God.
So. First things first. Consider your own heart. There’s a funny little saying that when you point at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you. Technically, they’re pointing at your hand, but I think we get the picture. Be careful how you point an accusing finger at someone. Often the lack we witness in other’s lives is prevalent in our own.
Jesus brought both grace and truth. He fulfilled the law, streamlined the law and in essence made it much more difficult to follow since it’s now dealing with the heart rather than behavior as the Mosaic law did. But his grace is what gives us the power for our hearts to be changed. Grace is the power we need for transformative living and when we reject grace in our own hearts, we turn back to the Mosaic law and focus on behaviors.
Grace considers how much God loves you. Think on how Christ set that kind of love before him in order to endure suffering on the cross. If God’s love can be Jesus’ motivating joy, and through Jesus you get to know that kind of love, embrace it. Embrace the grace that God pours out into your heart.
The truth? God loves you. He has set you apart. He has called you to be righteous. What steps can you take, with God’s strength, to step into that righteousness? What habits or attitudes are preventing you from “right-living” according to God’s standards?
It’s both grace and truth simultaneously growing in your heart. As you experience God’s grace and truth working in your heart, you will be so enamored with loving God and serving others that another person’s failure won’t bring out the pointing finger. But instead it will bring out a story of how God showed you grace and truth to change your life.
I use to be afraid of people and their rejection. But God showered me with grace. He reminded me over and over again that his approval could satisfy me. But he also showed me truth. He showed me how people’s approval had his spot in my heart. I turned seeking people’s approval into an idol. I can’t serve two masters. God helped me kick that people-pleasing, fear of rejection, dead idol right out of my heart.
Grace and truth. They work together to bring lasting change. They work together to bring victory. Keep them together as one unit and watch how your life is transformed.
Meditate on Romans 8:31-38.
Ponder Hebrews 12:11-16.
Remind yourself of God’s love for you. Write it on a card and place it where you will see it regularly.
Choose one behavior that doesn’t bring about righteousness in your life to stop doing. Rely on God’s strength and trust him with the process.