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Grace and Truth

During the Christmas season, a lyric from a song or traditional carol typically jumps out at me in a new and meaningful way. But this year, instead of it being a song that impacted me, it was a familiar verse about Christ’s incarnation from John 1:14.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The first parts of this verse are amazing, speaking of Christ’s incarnation and revealing himself to us as the Son of God. However, what grabbed my attention was the last part describing Christ as “full of grace and truth.”

On the surface, it seems that these two things are held in a bit of dynamic tension. When my laptop was stolen, I wanted truth. I wanted the bad guy to get caught and justice to be done. However, if I were to be pulled over by the police speeding down the road, I wouldn’t want to know the truth on how fast I was going. I would want grace.

Interpersonally, both of these can also be seemingly in tension. When we are being gracious, sometimes we might withhold the truth, instead choosing to flatter someone. Conversely, we could speak truth to someone in a way that is very harmful if we are lacking grace.

Yet, it is clear that Jesus perfectly embodied both. He spoke the truth to Pharisees who needed a rebuke and yet showed grace to the woman caught in adultery. Mark 10:14 says that Jesus became angry when his disciples tried to stop children from coming to him. He speaks the truth in verse 15 that we can’t get into God’s kingdom unless we come as a child. Yet, in the next verse (v. 16), Jesus’s rebuke of his disciples turns into grace toward the children as he took them in his arms and blessed them.

While Christ is the literal embodiment of both grace and truth (John 1:17, Rom. 3:24, John 14:6), we would do well to emulate being people full of grace and truth as Christ was. Both attributes should be present in our lives. Our speech should be full of grace (Col. 4:6), we should treat others as we would like to be treated (Matt. 7:12), and demonstrate mercy to others (Luke 6:36). We should also exhibit truth in our lives in the way we worship (John 4:23-24), the way we are truthful to each other (Eph. 4:24), and the way we love one another (Eph. 4:15). Both of grace and truth should be present in the life of the mature believer.

2 comments to Grace and Truth

  • Josh Peoples

    It is very true that, in our earthly perspective of grace and truth, the two seem to be in direct contrast with one another. Truth can very easily be communicated without grace and grace is often communicated without truth. We would do well to serve one another better if we sought to combine the two more effectively, thus seeking to emulate Christ with our speech and fellowship with others. Thank you for this article; it definitely calls out one of the biggest faults of our lives as Christians.

  • Jaden Johnson

    The Christian life is full of things that seem to be opposed. I like to refer to these as “tensions” in life, and the older I get, the more I realize they are everywhere. It’s important to realize that in some instances, we are simply incapable of fully comprehending how the tension itself works. I don’t think anyone, no matter how much they study and contemplate the subject, will ever be able to fully and completely explain how God’s sovereignty and human’s free will works in the area of Salvation. And it is okay that we can’t fully understand God and everything about how He has ordered the world to work! Specifically in this instance, however, I think it’s important to see grace and truth not as two opposed forces but rather as two forces working hand in hand with one another, and Jesus is the perfect embodiment of that tandem.