Two main reasons so many reject God or close their minds to Him are:
- A misunderstanding of God’s character
- An encounter with a Christian who lacked either grace or truth
Grace and truth are possibly the two words that most accurately describes God. In fact, these are the two words He used most to describe Himself in Scripture. From Genesis to Revelation, these two concepts were used to describe God’s character, Jesus’ way of life, and our expected conduct.
The fusion of these two concepts in our lives is also the key to transforming our marriages, friendships, personal growth, and even our intimacy with God.
When Moses said to God, “Show me your glorious presence,” God agreed to partially reveal Himself and passed in front of Moses, calling out:
“Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love [grace] and faithfulness [truth]. I lavish unfailing love [grace] to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty [truth]…” — Exodus 34:6-7
Grace and truth is often translated in Scripture as unfailing love and faithfulness. Here are the definition of the terms:
charis used 147 times; hesed used 248 times
- That which offers joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech
- Good will, loving-kindness, favor; the merciful kindness of God
- Unfailing love, compassion, mercy, kindness, or affection
aletheia used 99 times; emeth used 127 times
- What is true in any matter under consideration (reality)
- That candor of mind which is free from affection, pretense, simulation, falsehood, or deceit
- Firmness, faithfulness, reliability, stability, sureness, or steadfastness
“So the Word (Jesus) became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father… For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.” — John 1:14-17 (NLT)
One of the hardest things in life is to have both of these qualities in us. James Ryle, a Christian author says, “Truth without love equals harshness and love without truth is compromise.” It’s easier to have just grace — accept everything, regardless of whether or not it is true. It’s easier also to just exercise truth and not worry about showing compassion and mercy to others.
But what if we strived to combine the two? That’s what Jesus did. He was always gracious. Always merciful. Always kind. Always full of unfailing love and compassion. Always forgiving. But He was also always faithful. Always truthful. Always firm and steady. Always reliable. He forgives, yet He is also just. He shows grace, but never compromises truth.
“For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” — Psalm 108:4
Ten Practical Ways to Live This Out
- We forgive, but we speak up about the truth
- We hold firmly to our beliefs, but we express them in love
- We don’t compromise our values, but we extend grace to those with different ones
- We love those that hate us, but we understand that this does not affirm their actions
- We strive for justice, but know that it is ultimately in the hands of God, not ours
- We love people enough to hold them accountable
- We are firm, but loving with those struggling with sin
- We always see the brokenness of others in light of our own brokenness
- We lead boldly, but we do it with humility and a servant-heart
- We obey God’s ways, but respect those that disagree with us
Exodus 34:6; Psalm 25:10, 26, 57:3, 85:10, 86:15, 88:11, 89:1-2; Proverbs 3:3, 14:22, 16:5; Hosea 4:1; and Micah 7:20