Living in Grace and TruthJesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”John 8:10 – 11Sometimes grace and truth are hard to sort out. Last year I got a call from our son in Cairo, Egypt. He mentioned that on his return to Egypt, he read the first book I wrote. Here’s the essence of his grace and truth:“Hey, Dad, I read your book while I was in Sweden.” [Although the book came out a few years earlier, that he read it at all was definitely grace.]“Yeah, I would have really liked it . . .” [Now, this is a sure sign that truth is on its way.]“I would have really liked it if I were remotely interested in the subject.” [A little too much truth here.]“But it was well written.” [Definitely grace.]“And I liked the parts about me.” [Definitely truth.]Grace and truth need each other. Grace ceases to be grace if it lacks truth. And truth loses its power if it lacks grace. Grace without truth sanctions and perpetuates unwanted actions. Attorneys love it when clients filing for wrongful dismissal present them with a stack of acceptable performance reviews. Is it grace when we give silent slack rather than constructive criticism to ineffective employees? Is it grace when we allow our friends or relatives to wander down dangerous paths without saying anything? No. Grace without truth is not grace at all.But it can also be argued that truth without grace cannibalizes itself. About six months after I graduated from college I was doing youth work in a church that was divided on a very important issue. One day the main leader on one side of the issue invited me out to lunch. Not more than ten minutes into the meal, I realized that I was the lunch. After he got done chewing me up, I grunted through tears and anger the only thing that made sense to me: “I quit.” Over the years, I’ve reflected on that encounter in search of anything that could be helpful to me. Happily, I’ve come up with some guidelines for people who want to pummel me with the truth: First, I will have a hard time hearing truth if I am busy defending myself. Second, I will have a hard time identifying truth if the assault feels like it’s more for your good than for mine. Third, I am not capable of accepting truth from you if the attack feels personal. Fourth, I will stop thinking about truth if you make claims about my motives. Only I know my motives — and I would rather you ask me what they are than tell me what you think they are.So for me, and I suspect every other human being in our culture, without grace you will lose credibility, and any hope for truth telling will be destroyed.Truth without grace is harsh, usually self-centered, and very unChristlike. Grace without truth is deceptively permissive, often lazy, and equally un-Christlike. Good leaders communicate both grace and truth in love. Loving those we lead answers the question, “Should I show grace or should I tell the truth?” Both. Love unites grace and truth.GRACEThe parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23 – 35) gives a strong warning: beneficiaries of grace
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