So there’s a line about Jesus being “full of grace and truth” which I’ve heard plenty of times before, but only recently was it pointed out to me that it’s technically impossible (Thanks, Greg). As in, if being ‘full’ equals 100% then you are either completely one thing or a mixture of at least two things. A cat is not all fur; there’s teeth, and claws, and mischief in there too. It gets even more complicated when you apply this to a human.
You could make the claim that grace and truth exist in everyone, however, you have to accept that the percentages vary widely and in some cases appear almost non existent. To use myself as an example, between the two options, I tend to lean more towards truth than grace. The trouble is that most scenarios are never that simple.
Personally, I think truth tends to get viewed as pessimism (and I’m an optimist). But I’ve noticed it happens most often in those grey areas of life. Here’s an example:
Scenario #1 – Mistakes will be made
Let’s say you have a friend who is expecting a raise at work. To celebrate the upcoming increase in pay, this friend buys a new luxury car. Shortly after, your friend finds out they are not getting a raise after all. Upset about the situation, the friend calls you and asks you for your opinion.
What do you say? Do you tell them what a stupid mistake they made and question how on earth they’ve made it this far in life with such questionable money management skills? Do you tell them they were right to buy the car because they’re a good person and offer to speak to their boss about giving them a raise anyway?
Those are a couple of extremes but the point is that when to confer grace and when to speak truth is a personal choice for each person.
And what I’ve found is that people usually respond in the way they want someone to respond to them. If you’d like to receive grace, you give it. If you’d prefer truth, that’s what you dole out.
Of course, problems can arise when a grace-favoring person meets a truth-favoring one. Are you direct because you believe a lesson needs to be learned? Are you forgiving because everyone makes mistakes? Ideally, it’s both, right? But how much of one and the other is hard to nail down.
Example #2 – If you want something done right
Friday night is coming up and you’ve made plans to go out to dinner with friends. You offered to make a reservation at a restaurant, but a friend said they’d take care of it. Friday night comes, you show up to the restaurant, and oops–they forgot to make the reservation. Now you’re stuck downtown and you’re hungry. The friend who was supposed to make the reservation asks you if you’re mad.
Well that depends. Were you supposed to eat at that new restaurant you’ve been waiting to try for a month and you wore a new outfit just for the occasion and paid a premium rate for a Friday night babysitter? Then you’re probably a little peeved. Has this happened several times before with the same friend and you’ve repeatedly brought it up as a point of contention? See previous answer.
But maybe it’s no big deal to you and you just roll with whatever happens. If that’s the case, then I envy you. Because I’m starving and annoyed at this point.
That bar way up there–those are my expectations
Here’s where it gets interesting though. See, I know that I’m a truth-favoring person. Which means I am aware that I can stand to be more graceful, so I often pause, reflect, and breathe before moving forward. The funny thing is, I know why I’m like this; it’s because I have very high expectations for myself and I subconsciously put those expectations onto other people.
“How could you make that mistake? I would never have made that mistake.”
It gets doubly tricky when I make a mistake and kick myself for making it. How could I have said that? Done that? Been so stupid? Turns out that my high bar of expectations is a double-edged sword.
So not only does this mean I should practice giving grace to others, but also to myself from time to time. For a truth person, it’s actually pretty hard. I imagine it’s equally hard for a grace person. The thing about truth is that it’s pretty unforgiving. It can be brutal, harsh, and upsetting. Of course, grace can come in and temper that harshness a bit, but it’s a balance.
Mind you, it’s a balance I’m still figuring out so heads up if you ask me for my opinion on something…but at least I’m trying to be full of grace and truth.
written by: Zach Hardison, February 1, 2017
Zachary Koala Hardison is an eternal optimist, published author, and creative storyteller. He lives in New Albany, OH, with his wife, daughter, and two cats. If interested, you can find info on his book at cursetheday.com.