If we are to be Christlike then my simple mind tells me we are supposed to be like Christ. I’m not making a play on words, but sadly it is becoming more customary in the Church is to throw Christian clichés around like some sort of holy Frisbee. It can be a lot of fun but you don’t really get a lot of exercise from it. When the Apostle John introduced our Lord to us in his Gospel, we get a complete definition of who Christ is:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
This is this year’s theme verse our pastor has picked for our church and it has become abundantly clear during this presidential primary season that the Church in America needs a new understanding what “full of grace and truth” actually means. Our pastor teaches us that a gospel of only grace is like sugar water; it’s sweet to taste but has no nutritional value. But also a gospel with only truth becomes like a sledgehammer, beating down its hearers all in the name of truth.
As one of my fellow church council members responded to my question from Monday, truth must be measure and mixed. He first wrote that truth must be measured with wisdom:
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12)
Don’t brush that aside; where going to look at that closely. Bro Kerry also wrote that truth must be mixed with love:
“…but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ…” (Ephesians 4:15)
I have always tried to be honest, at times brutally so. I recall a conversation I had once with my late mother. This was before I was saved and we were having a conversation, perhaps even an argument, and my mother bristled at something I had said. I do not recall the details, but I’ll never forget her response. I asked her if what I was saying was untrue, and she said no, but I didn’t have to be so mean with the truth. She told me I had such a hard heart. OUCH! But she was right.
I was not “speaking the truth in love” as Paul admonished the Ephesian church to do. I figured as long as I was speaking the truth I was standing on solid ground. You see I had my sledgehammer in hand and was very good at using it. I would love to say that changed after I got saved but at times it only got worse. The more I learned the heavier the sledgehammer got. But that’s okay because I was building up spiritual muscles, don’t you know?
Where grace comes in is having the wisdom of how and when to share the truth. Let’s go back to John 16, Jesus begins this chapter with these words:
“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.” (John 16:1-4)
Jesus then made a wonderful promise to His disciples, one I think we take for granted on one hand and give too much reverence on the other. Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit because although our Lord had much to say to the Disciples, He knew they could “not bear them now.” Now look at what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit:
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13)
Look at the Holy Spirit’s job description: guide, speak, tell. The Holy Spirit is to guide us “into all truth.” And all that the Spirit “hears He will speak.” And the things He will tells us are those “things to come.” Now I’m not the Holy Spirit but when I am using the truth, my goal should be to guide the lost into the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to speak not what my heart and emotions tell me but what the Holy Spirit illuminates to me through the Word.
Where wisdom comes in my using the truth is not whether or not the hearers will accept it or not, rather can they bear it. And usually if I will check my motives then I can usually keep myself from picking up my sledgehammer to make my point.
My buddy Steve Deace shared some great advice with me recently. He said we should ask ourselves two questions before we do something:
1) According to the Word of God, is what I’m doing here, and the reasons I’m doing it, glorifying to God?
2) If I had to look the Lord Jesus Christ in the eye and explain this decision/action, could I do so without being embarrassed or ashamed?
Those are two solid rails to ride upon.
While I do not want to beat everyone I come into contact with, I also don’t want to sugarcoat the things I am supposed to say nor can I preach or teach from the NTFV Bible (New Touch-Feely Version) that most of the Joy Boys such as Joel Osteen use.
Instead of using the Word of God and its Truth as sugar water or a sledgehammer, we need to remember that it is described as a two-edge sword:
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
That last part is so important for me. I need to use the word of God on me more than I do anyone else, because no one I know needs to have his or her thoughts and intents of their heart discerned more than mine.
Is my speaking sugar water or a sledgehammer, or is it measured with wisdom and mixed with love?
The latter is a good starting point, but there is another ingredient needed when we speak the truth: mercy.
More on that tomorrow…
If you’re receiving these devotionals for the first time and would like to receive them on a regular basis, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and use “Please add to Devotional List” as the subject.
Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers
Aletheia, Apologetics, Bible, Christian Activism, Christianity, Culture, Evangelism, Faith, Forgiveness, Grace, Holy Spirit, Honesty, Joel Osteen, Mercy, Morality, Politics, Revival, Sin, Truth, Wisdom