Full Of Grace AND Truth
By Rich Carmicheal
In these days in which there is increasing rejection of the Lord and His Word, those of us who belong to Him face strong challenges. One challenge is to remain faithful to Him and His truth, even though in doing so we will face increasing opposition, hostility and persecution. "…Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12). But no matter how great the cost to us, we must uphold His Word and His ways. His truth is vital, and too much is at stake. We must never compromise His truth or His standards of righteousness.
Another challenge we face is to not become cold and calloused, but to keep our hearts filled with God’s love, grace and compassion. Jesus has warned us well in advance that in these last days as lawlessness increases, "most people’s love will grow cold" (Matt. 24:12). We also have the sobering example of the Ephesian church in which the believers were very strong in upholding truth, and yet, had lost their first love (Rev. 2:2-4). No matter how much knowledge we may have, or how right we may be, if we lose our love for God and others, we have lost everything (1 Cor. 13:1-3). As God’s people, our lives are to be marked by love and with "a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Col. 3:12-14). We are to walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us (Eph. 5:2).
So a great challenge for us in these crucial days is to fully honor God’s truth, and at the same time, fully share His love and grace with others. If we have much truth but little love and grace, we are prone to become full of pride, self-righteousness and hypocrisy. We are likely to develop a "holier-than-thou" attitude, and become very critical, harsh and standoffish. On the other hand, if we have much love and grace but little regard for truth, then we are prone to become soft on sin and give others a false sense of security, jeopardizing their eternal well-being. We must be filled with both grace AND truth.
Filled With Christ
The perfect example for us in this is Christ – the One "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). In the Gospels we see His heart full of grace, love and compassion for others, including "sinners," and at the same time we see His heart full of devotion to God’s truth and holiness, without any compromise whatsoever. The cost for His devotion was supreme – ridicule, contempt, persecution, and ultimately His very life. But in living a life full of grace and truth, He provided what people truly needed.
The people around us today have the same needs, whether they are aware of it or not. This means that you and I have a tremendous responsibility (and privilege!) to allow His grace and truth to flow through our lives toward them. Living such a life will be costly to us, but the fruit will be worth it!
Of course, we cannot live a life full of grace and truth apart from Christ. We must be filled with Him! If we abide in Him, and He in us, we will impact the lives of others and bear much fruit to the glory of God (John 15:5, 8). Oh, draw near to Christ and let Him fill you with His passion for truth and His compassion for others; let Him fill you with His righteousness, His strength, His courage, His love and His mercy. As His life overflows from your life, the world around you will not be the same.