Grace & Truth – Part 1 – What You Do Matters to God!
I have talked to many people and have found that this battle between Grace & Truth is much harder to balance in our lives than we think it should be. We all want people to be gracious to us when we make mistakes but we also want justice when others don’t do things the way we think they should and it affects us.
Look at Sports…
How upset do you get when your team has a call go against them that you feel is wrong?
How upset do you get when the other team has a call go against them that you feel is wrong?
Do we really want Justice and fairness or for our lives to be comfortable and things go our way?
Our church is one that strives to help point people to Christ but also recognize that we all have sinned and fall short of God’s Glory. One thing you will hear me say often, is I am not as concerned as where you have been but where you are going. What I mean by that is that our focus is on helping each other to be on the right track. You have heard me use an analogy of God’s will with that of using a GPS.
First let’s define Grace and truth: These are on the slides
Grace: The unmerited favor of God that is neither earned nor maintained through any effort of our own.
“For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,” (Rom. 4:16).
“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace,” (Rom. 11:6).
Truth in essence is conformity to fact, reality, or actuality. Truth is often that which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence. Christians generally regard the Bible as communicating the truth about God and spiritual things, answering the ultimate questions of life and meaning in this world.
Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life.”
So how do we understand this battle between Grace & Truth. I think we must first look to God and how He designed Grace and Truth as far as Salvation and our relationship with Him.
First priority is understanding Gods grace as it relates to our eternity.
I think many of us understand grace and truth in terms of salvation. The truth is that God created us to be in a relationship with Him but we are sinners who are utterly dead and helpless. We are separated from God and can never do anything to get ourselves back on good terms with Him, no matter how hard we try. This is because God is a JUST God and must punish all sins. This means that He must separate us from Him. Our only option is eternal death unless a perfect person dies in our place. That is where God’s balance of GRACE steps in. Jesus—the entirely innocent, sinless Son of God—paid the penalty for our sins. God, in His justice, knew a just price must be paid for our offenses, and He paid it with the life of His Son. Then He welcomed all who put their faith and dependence on What Christ has done for us into His family.
After we’ve accepted Jesus as our Savior, is love and justice, grace and truth still available to us?
Grace isn’t just about salvation. Truth isn’t just about following the rules. If we have only one of these then it completely loses it’s value. God designed for us to live this out in our lives as we grow to become more like Him. These two aspects must permeate a Christian’s life in balance. Truth does matter. Our actions matter. But they don’t matter in the way we often think they do. WHAT WE DO DOES MATTER TO GOD.
So, as we seek to live out our faith and point people to truth we have to answer a very important question.
Since what we do, does matter to God, when we point out to people how they should live rightly are we pointing them to God’s truth or our preference?
Are we trying to point people to our preference or God’s truth in the way they are living. How many times have you seen us get frustrated at someone because of the way they are doing things. We see how they could do it better (**OUR WAY!) and we want them to know how much it frustrates us.
When we tell people how we think they should act, it is rarely received well for several reasons:
1) We often share our opinions of the situation and their actions while we are upset, and they can sense our frustration with them.
2) We often present our preferences as right, instead of basing right and wrong upon God’s standards. We treat people’s actions as if they are wrong simply because they do not match our opinions or thoughts.
A couple of weeks ago Pastor Doug did a message on a Healthy church and talked about some of those preferences. We see it in the church world. We see it in our homes on how we parent, on how we do our jobs at work, at how we organize our home and whether we are OK if things are a little messy or need things for our sanity to be clean. *I have heard that there are some people that can’t go to bed at night if there is a dirty dish in the kitchen sink. Is that right or wrong? Neither. It is however a preference for that person. Telling them not to do it or telling someone else they must isn’t pointing people to truth. It is pointing people to preference.
Talk about difference between preference and principle and Gods truth.
Think about this, when you correct people’s behavior are you pointing them to God’s truth or are you pointing them to your preference? We will talk more about this next week.
Is that really loving someone when we do that?
Sometimes we go the opposite to avoid people not reacting well to us.
I’ve heard it said that the extent to which we are able to receive God’s love is the extent to which we will love Him in return. I see this playing out in many areas of our lives from the way we love our spouses, kids, friends, family and the way we treat our neighbors and even those we disagree with.
Sometimes we feel like that leaning toward Grace accomplishes this better. Does being gracious really mean you love someone more? It depends on what being Gracious looks like.
*Example of Parenting. If I let my kids get away with anything they want would they be happier? For a while I am sure. But would they believe we love them more because of that? If you see anyone you love going down a path that you know will hurt them, if you love them would you want to help redirect (Recalculating) them so they will not go down that path anymore? But how will you come across to that person who you are trying to help? Will they see you as a legalistic rule follower who only wants them to follow the rules or will you ignore the problem and say you are just extending Grace when you are really just ignoring them.
Why is it so hard to balance Grace and Truth?
What do I mean by this?
Most of us have tendencies toward either Grace or Truth. Having a balance of these 2 things in our lives is where we need to go.
Which tendency do you lean toward?
Usually we lean more toward truth or more toward grace. Which way do you lean? What strengths do you have in that? In what areas can you grow? As we grow more toward a balance of truth and grace, we grow closer to God, because we are surrendering more to him, we are remembering his constant, loving presence with us and letting him change us from the inside out.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. … For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:14, 17
What does it look like when we lean toward one and not as much toward the other?
Grace Tendencies and problems
You struggle because you lean towards grace letting people off the hook far too easily. You excuse behavior without any question. Your bend is to water down the truth in an effort to love others, but in the process keep them from growing in holiness and maturity.
Some people easily extend grace to others. They first question that ask themselves when faced with an interpersonal dilemma is “What is the the loving, grace-filled thing to do?” These people are caring, nurturing people who desire that others feel accepted and loved. Clearly, they are following Jesus’ example. If they lean too far toward grace and disregard when people are ignoring God’s truth, they can become wishy-washy and God’s truth is lost in their niceness.
What is False Grace?
False grace is when you realize that you are going to sin so there is no focus on letting God restore you. Instead you get frustrated when people point out your sin. You bring up verses about not judging others and have no desire to be corrected. You see God has forgiven you so you just keep doing what YOU want.
Do you struggle with loving God’s Law and recognizing how it benefits you to live the way God designed for you?
They tend to see things in black and white. They are quick to make judgments, and expect people to keep the same rules that They do.
We all have struggles and we all have different areas that God has been working out in our lives.
Other people tend to lean more to pointing people to Truth. The first question asked when facing a problem is “What Biblical truth is applicable to this situation?” Truth-side people desire that justice prevail which can only happen when all the facts are known and logic is applied. If they lean too far toward wanting people to always live rightly and not mess up, they can become hard nosed and rigid, and people don’t respond to the truth they are pointing to.
This can lead to legalism. What is Legalism?
Do you struggle when someone makes decisions that you don’t think are right? When other people sin, does it make you mad or do you feel compassion toward them? Does it make you want others to see their mistakes or do you want to love them and help them walk through their struggles even when they seem to not want any help? Does it make you upset when someone doesn’t notice that they even are not living the way God says we should live?
Why should we balance the 2?
If we have a relationship that doesn’t have truth or grace, the relationship is one that is non-involved. It’s a relationship where nobody cares. If we have a relationship that has truth without grace, it’s a graceless relationship. There is no margin for mistake or error in a relationship like this. If we have a relationship that has grace without truth, it’s a truth-less relationship. These relationships are solely based on what I want to hear and not what I may need to hear. Finally, we hit our sweet spot when grace and truth are both existent in a relationship. This is where true agape love happens.
It seems to me that the key is to find the kind of balance between grace and truth that Jesus’ life exemplified. Jesus reached out in love and acceptance to those others rejected, offering them grace. He also stated clearly that the laws of God were to be obeyed.
It is when I am truly amazed by God’s grace that I can fully live in His truth. As Alcorn puts it, “People need the directions of truth to know where to go. Then they need the empowerment of grace to help them get there.”  I need God’s truth, but then I need Him to empower me to live in it.
The reality is that we need both grace and truth in our lives in order to grow and stay balanced.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15
So, even though we think we should sometimes not say anything and just let people do what they want we need to remember…..
What we do matters to God….
There are a few ways that this plays out in our lives.God does bless obedience. Not because I am good but because I am following His plan and His plan is best.
1. God tells us to be like Him. . 1 Peter 1:16, “for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” We are to be like Christ in all we do.
Col. 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
2. We have the aroma of Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:15
2 Corinthians 2:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
What do you smell like to those around you?
We are the only reflection of God some people will see. We are image bearers of Christ. 1 Peter 4:1, If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
3. It helps us live out the best life on Earth.
Proverbs 3 My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments;
2 For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you.
3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your [c]body And refreshment to your bones.
Psalms 1:1-2 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Luke 11:28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
4. It produces eternal rewards.
*James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
1 Corinthians 3:12-14 ESV /
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
*Matthew 6:4 ESV /
So that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
*Matthew 6:6 ESV /
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
*Matthew 6:18 ESV /
That your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
What we do does matter to God. However, there needs to be a balance of grace and truth in our relationships. Are you quick to point out others faults? Are the things you are pointing out things that matter to God….or things that matter to you? Do you find that you are quick to just ignore when other Christians are struggling and just say, “I’m no judge?” Is that helping them move closer to becoming like Christ? Do you put the same standard of morality and living of God’s truth on non Christians as you do Christians? Do you have balance of moving yourself and others toward growth in Christ in a loving way?
I want to challenge you this week to do a few things.
1) What does your Aroma smell like to others? Ask people who are close to you if you tend to lean towards Truth or Grace more and why they say that. Be sure that if you ask them that you give them permission to be honest with you and that you don’t get mad at them….especially if you lean toward Truth. They are just doing what you do to others. 🙂
2) Spend time this week going through the daily scriptures in the TP/WP and praying for God to bring to mind examples where you could show more Grace or Encourage people more in God’s Truth. Think about why you may have trouble doing that in those situations.
3) Come back next week to hear about Grace & Truth and Why the way we love matters to God.