So often we think we must achieve a balance of grace and truth in the Christian life — just enough truth, just enough grace. Or perhaps we feel there are times for grace but other times when primarily truth is what is needed. Most of us would acknowledge that we shouldn’t be at one extreme or the other in many areas. We look for balance. Being at extremes has gotten many a church leadership in trouble as they dealt with issues in the Body.
But, if we look at Jesus’ life, we see that when it comes to grace and truth, it isn’t a matter of balance. He was 100% grace and 100% truth. He did not lay aside the one to become the other.
Jn. 1:14 – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jn. 1:17 – For the law was given by Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
As He walked on this earth, and even now, Jesus administered grace while speaking truth. We too are exhorted to be “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). Notice that it doesn’t say “Show some love and then hit them with the truth.” Nor does it say “Speak the truth and follow it up with some love.” Both love (grace) and truth are to be present at the same time.
Jesus brought this perspective of grace AND truth into worship in John 4 when the Samaritan woman identified two different styles of worship, questioning which way was acceptable.
Samaritan Method of Worship: In John 4:22 Jesus said of the Samaritans, “You worship what you do not know.” They were limited in knowledge, accepting only the Pentateuch of the Old Testament. Their worship was enthusiastic but they lacked the proper knowledge. — “zeal without knowledge”
Jewish Method of Worship: They accepted the entire Old Testament and hence did not lack knowledge but their hearts weren’t in it. In Mark 7:6 Jesus used Isaiah’s words to describe them, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.” — “knowledge without zeal”
Jesus responded, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:23-24).
Both zeal AND knowledge are what the Father seeks. He is looking for life and truth, enthusiasm and sound doctrine . . . grace AND truth. This applies to how we deal with others. It applies to worship of our God. The whole of our lives should be filled with both grace and truth if we are going to be Christ-like.