Should a Christian speak with grace? Or should a Christian speak the truth?
Is it an “either or” question?
Why can’t a Christian do both? Why can’t a Christian speak the truth gracefully? Of course, many many Christians actually do. So, what I really mean is, why can’t I always speak the truth full of grace?
Speaking the truth is hard enough. But to speak it with grace, too?
Speaking the truth is hard because so many people don’t live according to the truth. And so many people don’t live according to the same truth.
If I speak the truth – God’s Truth – to people who are not living according to that Truth they tend to not thank me for enlightening them.
But Jesus did this! What is the difference in how He did it and how I do it?
The Samaritan Woman that Jesus conversed with at Jacob’s Well is a good example. Here’s a woman who’s been married 5 times and divorced or widowed five times. She’s given up on marriage and is now living with a man outside the blessing of marriage.
But Jesus doesn’t confront her with this, not right away. There’s a clue for me. Jesus first establishes contact, discusses simple things that, of course, are not so simple. Jesus is able to get this woman to open up about what she really wants. By the time Jesus gets to the hard truth, she’s able to hear it as filled with grace. And because of the Grace and Truth, she’s saved!
There’s also some comfort in knowing that there wasn’t always as positive a result.
Nothing could be filled with more grace and truth than Jesus’ conversation with the rich young man in Mark 10. They are talking about serious things – salvation! They get to the same place – God’s Will. But Jesus takes him to the ultimate place – leaving everything behind and following him. But I note a major item in this story. Mark records, “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him….” Jesus loved him. Grace with the Truth.
The first step is to know this first step. It isn’t enough – it isn’t Christ-like – to just speak the Truth to people. To be truly Christ-like, we must, as St. Paul says, “Speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
Knowing this is the first step in doing this.