When was the last time you introduced a friend to another friend? “Hey Jack, this is my friend, Joe.” Then you briefly add where they work, what they do, or how you know them.
Now imagine you have to introduce Jesus Christ to someone. What would you say in a single summarizing sentence?
In the first chapter of his Gospel, John gives a fantastic five-word introduction: full of grace and truth. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
This week is the second devotional in a five-part series about our communication, interactions, and reactions in our relationships. There are five biblical themes that, by grace, will help transform the way we live with others.
And that’s precisely the theme today: grace. Are your relationships characterized by an attitude of grace?
What is grace? At its core, the nature of grace is a Christlike nature. Jesus, full of grace and truth, is the one we have been called to imitate in our relationships. Submission to the Son of God should shape how we communicate, interact, and react.
It’s important to notice how John presents Jesus as being filled not just with truth but also with grace. The combination of truth and grace is our hope in this life and the one to come.
If the Messiah compromised his truth for grace, there would be no hope of satisfying God’s righteous requirements. But Jesus wasn’t just full of truth. If that were all that filled him, we would have no hope. There would be no tenderhearted sacrifice for sin.
In your relationships, if you speak truth in ways that are devoid of grace, you have, in fact, done violence to the “truth” that you think you are speaking. If you handle grace in a way that compromises truth, the “grace” you are offering is not really grace at all.
Truth and grace must never be pulled apart. One is never valued more than the other, and neither is ever abandoned. To conclude today’s devotional, however, I want to focus on grace because I have been saddened by how Christians treat others in ways that are devoid of grace.
Yes, we are called to love and defend truth. Yes, there are strongholds of falsehood that need to be torn down. But using “truth” as a sledgehammer to destroy, with no intention of restoration, is hardly Christlike.
If we claim to be Christlike, we cannot simultaneously claim to be using “truth” as we shame, mock, dismiss, self-righteously judge, or disrespect others. If our way of speaking “truth” is characterized by vengeful responses, mocking reactions, character assassinations, disrespect, dismissal, cruelty, and toxicity, are we truly following the way of grace and truth?
When the Apostle Paul lists the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19–21, he puts enmity, strife, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, and divisions right next to sexual immorality, impurity, and sorcery.
It should be sobering to us that while we decry the immorality of the surrounding culture, we have permitted into Christian culture and our relationships many of the things the Bible names as the works of the flesh.
As sinners, our intentions that started out as pure defenses of truth have the capacity to get bent and twisted by biased emotions and selfish agendas. Grace never ignores wrong; grace is never passive in the face of evil. But grace is also never unsympathetic; grace never treats issues as being more important than people.
I don’t know about you, but the call to follow Jesus and be full of grace and truth in my relationships leaves me crying out for transforming grace.
It requires grace to invest the patience necessary to fully understand your opponent. It takes grace to answer them with calm wisdom. It takes grace to respond lovingly to personal attacks. It takes grace to be humbly approachable. It takes grace to trust God to do what you are unable to accomplish in the life of another person.
If I am ever going to interact and react to others with grace, I need grace. I need the intervention of God’s grace to free me from the works of the flesh.
Because of the life, death, and resurrection of the One full of grace and truth, this grace is ours for the taking!
Paul David Tripp
1. How would you define or explain Jesus in a single brief sentence?
2. What are some banners of life-giving truth that have been compromised in our culture? What are some life-damaging strongholds of falsehood that need to be torn down?
3. In what ways have you displayed more enthusiasm about confronting falsehood than personally living by the fruit of the Spirit? How can you better incarnate the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control of the Savior?
4. Consider some “works of the flesh” that you might have displayed recently: enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, or envy. What was the motivation of your heart in these moments?
5. How can you introduce (or re-introduce) a non-believing friend, neighbor, family member, or co-worker to Jesus Christ this week? Who, specifically, has the Lord put in your life who needs to hear the gospel? What has been stopping you from being bold in the past?
6. How can you better equip yourself for evangelism in an increasingly secular culture? Where can you assign time to studying apologetics and cultural issues so you can more effectively defend and explain the Christian faith?