There are a lot of hot button topics around today—immorality, drunkenness, premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality. Not one of these issues would have been shown on television 50 years ago. Yet today television shows that do not depict at least one of these issues are rare.
The Bible has clearly drawn lines of truth regarding these issues. In His word, God tells us what He expects and why these things will only hurt us in the end. However, those truths put many Christians in direct conflict with most of the world today.
In talking about one particular hot button last Sunday, our pastor made a statement that in regard to these issues, Jesus speaks with both grace and truth. What does that mean really? Does Jesus speak with grace and truth all the time or one sometimes and then the other?
As I pondered the statement, I was reminded of a spelling test in second grade. Though I had an awesome teacher, she was stickler in making sure we followed directions. I didn’t listen well to the instructions especially when she told us where to write our answers.
I was halfway through the test when I realized I was writing the answers down in the wrong place. I tried to re-copy and keep up with the new words. The result was catastrophic. I ran to the bathroom and bawled my eyes out. Hey, I was in second grade. What do you expect?
My teacher sent the rest of the class to the playground. She coaxed me out of the bathroom and back into the room where she sat down in front of me. “I know you are a good student and you probably would have made 100% but you didn’t follow the rules,” she said. “You deserve an F.” My stomach lurched.
“However, I give my students one time for a makeup exam,” she continued. “Would you like to take your one time now?” I did and made the perfect score. However, after that I listened better. I made sure I knew the directions.
Truth said, “You messed up. You get an F.” Grace gave me a second chance.
It’s true that many times Christians are prone only to speak with the black and white lines of truth clearly drawn. If you do something wrong, you’re toast. If you don’t, you’re good. Breathe a sigh of relief.
I’ve always put a lot of stock in the truth. God’s word is the truth. Truth is easy to understand. It either is true or it is a lie. I’m pretty good at finding out the truth. Just ask the myriad of foster kids who’ve been through our home. Truth is something by which I’ve tried to live my life and expect the same out of others.
No matter how hard I try to live by truth, though, I will fall short. If I fall short in one area, even one small area and believe me I have more than one area, I fall short period. That’s where grace comes in.
Grace is God’s unmerited favor. I will never fully understand it because it has to do with the bottomless depths of God’s love for us. Grace doesn’t erase the clearly drawn lines of truth. It forgives when we overstep them. We are still held accountable for our actions but God has an unlimited supply of patience and grace. He loves us with an all-encompassing love that never quits until we completely turn our back on him.
Just saying the word grace is like breathing in fresh air. Grace is what makes us whole. Grace is what gives us a second chance. Grace is straight from the heart of God.
If you’re waiting for the connection between sex and Mrs. Corneilson, let’s just say that I think she would be sure an individual knew the Biblical truths on the subject of sex. (Which the Bible is totally for within the bonds of a committed marriage relationship). If someone had been thumbing their nose at God’s truth and was not a believer, she would probably be more on the side of giving grace, at least once.
God however knows our human weaknesses and loves us through whatever we are doing. He gives grace continually. Though he will hold us accountable for every action, positive or negative. Just like Mrs. Corneilson, he wants us to follow the directions so we can pass any test, trial or temptation thrown our way. In this life, there will be many. Some will be pop quizes you never saw coming.
Grace and truth seem to be on opposite sides of the spectrum but really they work in tandem. Truth sets the boundaries; grace gives and keeps on giving even when we don’t deserve it.
Grace and truth, where would we be without both? Where indeed.