Eternity in Our Hearts

Bringing what endures into everyday life

Grace and Truth {and a prayer for our pastors}

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CareerBuilder just released its latest study on the most outrageous excuses employees give when taking a sick day.  A few of my favorites:

Employee’s false teeth flew out the window while driving down the highway.

Employee claimed a swarm of bees surrounded his vehicle, and he couldn’t make it in.

Employee claimed she got stuck in the grocery store blood-pressure machine.

Wikimedia

Wikimedia

If you’re not as creative in coming up with excuses, there are webpages that have already done that for you:

“I always say food poisoning.”

“I have a bat in my kitchen cupboard.”

Oh, to tell the truth.  Research suggests that about 60 percent of us have a hard time getting through a ten-minute conversation without lying at least twice and that the average person lies about 11 times a day. (Research doesn’t lie, you know.)

Truth, any way you look at it, is held in decreasing esteem. I suppose one could nitpick about distinctions between honesty, dishonesty (as in the above examples), and Truth as a spiritual concept, but I think it all boils down to one’s worldview. Is self at the center, or Jesus?

In our relativistic culture, a claim to truth is equated with a judgment upon those who disagree. This perspective, however, separates truth from grace, and the two are more compatible than we may realize on the surface.

As a Christ-follower, I believe that He is the truth and His Word is truth that transforms. According to 1 Corinthians 2, this conviction is an outcome of grace and the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart, not my own wisdom. As Randy Alcorn says, “Truth is far more than facts. It’s not just something we act upon. It acts upon us.” And so, I don’t claim truth as if it is mine and guard it as if defending my own ego, my own infallibility.

Christ is the fulfillment of grace and truth in perfect harmony (John 1:14). I know myself and how tempting it is for me, as a fallible person, to be arrogant with the truth at the expense of grace or to be soft with grace at the expense of truth. And so, I claim Jesus and ask Him to set my mind & heart in the balance that He exemplifies.

We know by grace that grace may be known” (Douglas Groothuis).

The ability to discern truth is a work of the Spirit, and I am learning to see myself as not an owner of this gift but its servant. Jesus is inextricable from the Truth (“I am the way, the truth, and the life“), and as I am a servant of Jesus, I am a servant of the truth.

Because Jesus is the Life, I am also a servant of life. According to Proverbs 18:21, my words (and yours) have the power of life and death. Societal issues – the ones that get us into arguments about truth – are, at the core, sacred issues about life, its holy origin, and God-ordained designs.

And so, for me, resigning “pro-life” or “traditional marriage” to political platforms is a cop-out. It’s my everyday responsibility to choose words and actions that honor God in the most ordinary of ways in my home and communities.

I’m not waiting for a court ruling or an act of Congress to set society right; I’m asking Jesus for a right spirit within me. This doesn’t mean that I confuse grace with approval/tolerance of immorality. Love covers but doesn’t justify sin. I’m learning that a high view of truth and a high view of grace go hand in hand. I look at myself and I see how far & how often I’ve fallen short of God’s holy, absolute standards. And then I grasp the wonder of His grace that sent His Son to the cross.

The Scripture says –
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view (2 Corinthians 5:14 – 16).

Christ died for my life. Your life. Your neighbor’s life. The sex slave’s life. The homosexual’s life. The refugee’s life. The unborn baby’s life.

As a Christian, that truth has to radically transform how I see and treat life – whether young or old; rich or poor; able-bodied or impaired; slave or free; weak or strong.

Truth lets people know where you stand, but grace lets people know you love them (Pastor Eric Mason).

And if Christ’s love is what truly compels me, my goal is not to win political or philosophical arguments. My goal is to be like Him and make disciples.

As Albert Outler prayed,  “Lord, protect us from the mindless love that deceives and the loveless truth that kills.”

This prayer expresses our holy dependence upon God, that we might live humbly and uphold truth as grateful recipients who engage culture without haughtiness or fear or condemnation but with love, fervent prayer, and confidence that God is in control and is still moving all things into His redemptive, eternal purposes.

And let’s take every opportunity to support and encourage our pastors and pray especially that they would speak with grace, that truth may be realized, and speak with truth, that grace may be received.

O my Lord,
Let not my ministry be approved only by men,
or merely win the esteem and affections
of people;
But do the work of grace in their hearts,
call in Thy elect,
seal and edify the regenerate ones,
and command eternal blessings on their souls.
Save me from self-opinion and self-seeking;
Water the hearts of those who hear Thy Word,
that seed sown in weakness may be raised in power …
Make my every sermon a means of grace to myself,
and help me to experience the power
of Thy dying love,
for Thy blood is balm,
Thy presence bliss,
Thy smile heaven,
Thy cross the place where truth and mercy meet.

A Minister’s Prayer, From The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

It is false piety to preserve peace at the expense of truth. It is also false zeal to preserve truth at the expense of charity. –  Blaise Pascal

Truth-oriented Christians who address abortion and homosexuality without grace are dead wrong. Grace-oriented Christians who assume every attempt to speak out against these comes from people who know nothing of grace, are equally wrong. Since Christ is full of both, we dare not choose truth over grace, or grace over truth. – Randy Alcorn

If we speak of “our faith” we should emphasize that the truth is not our possession; rather the truth possesses us. No one put it better than G. K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy who confessed concerning Christianity: ‘I will not call it my philosophy; for I did not make it. God and humanity made it; and it made me.’ – Douglas Groothuis

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples” … not converts to your own opinions.  – Oswald Chambers

MadelineL'Engle

****

Author: Renee Ratcliffe

Http://About.me/reneeratcliffe/#

8 thoughts on “Grace and Truth {and a prayer for our pastors}

  1. I love that you share words from “The Valley of Vision.” It is a favorite of mine for the words ring so clearly. A blessing to come by. ~ linda

  2. Yes, the Valley of Vision is a treasure! Thank you, Linda.

  3. Amen! Thanks for the reminder. I’m a soap box kinda girl, always rambling about some issue. I’m just spinning my wheels in vain if words are not united with prayer. “The truth is not our possession; rather the truth possesses us.” I love that quote. Many blessings. Did I mention that I love your blog? 😉

  4. Thanks so much! You’re so, so kind. I like the quote too. Certainly gives me something to think about. I’m inspired by your site as well 🙂

  5. Oh, I love these words: “..not owners of truth, but servants of truth.” Absolutely! Sometimes, it’s so easy to look at the world in black and white and forget that God created in color–and he gave us brains and minds and the ability to wrestle with hard problems (but our wrestling always works better if we’re seeped in prayer).

  6. Hi Renee. My husband is an associate pastor. Your topic caught my attention and I am so glad it did. This post is a beautiful summary of truth and relating it to ministry hits home. I especially love your prayer suggestion “that our pastors would speak with grace that truth may be realized and speak with truth that grace may be received.” I think I will take your suggestion and pray this for my husband on a regular basis. I also love the prayer quoted from the Valley of Vision! Have a blessed weekend.

    • Thanks, Robin, for being here! It’s nice to meet you and connect with you through our blogs. Yours is a beautiful site! Thank you for taking time to share – I am realizing more and more how important it is to cover our pastors with prayer. I’ll join you in interceding that they would be grace and truth-filled.
      Gratefully,
      Renee

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