Grace and Truth: The Tension


The other day I heard a sermon by Robert Madu (Google him) on the topic that is this post’s title. I feel you flinching. Don’t worry. I will not preach at you (unless you want to talk privately). But I found it interesting because of the discussion on the dichotomy of grace and truth. Too much grace, and a message is watered down. Too much truth, and compassion goes out the window. Yet it is possible to live in the tension of both.

I’ve struggled to know what to post lately. With so many voices already lifted, what could I add? (By the way, for a great post on giving voice, I recommend Laura Bruno Lilly’s latest post. Click here for it.) And then I heard the above sermon which really hit home to me. So here I am.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that we’re all struggling, hurting, sad, afraid, and overwhelmed. That we all want to be heard. That we all were children once who grew up without all of the answers, no matter how much we pretend otherwise.

So, we criticize, complain, ignore, put down, demand—I feel exhausted just thinking about that list. And by we, I mean me. I’ve done all of the above in just the past week or so. “They see what they need to do. Why don’t they do it?” I grumbled. Truth without grace.

Or, I have thought, Let’s all just move on! Grace without truth.

Living in the tension of grace and truth is not easy. But we need that tension, don’t we . . . when we mess up. When we see someone else mess up. When we’re afraid. When we see someone else with a fear that’s different from ours and we are tempted to judge.

We need it from each other. We need each other.

Grace and Truth images found somewhere on the internet via Bing.

31 thoughts on “Grace and Truth: The Tension

  1. I agree L. Marie, we do need to come together. Reading your words I was reminded of being on a teeter totter as a child. Both my friend and I had to remain sitting because if one jumped off, the other would go crashing to the ground.

    • That is a great analogy, Jill! It is a balancing act! 😀
      I can’t help thinking of that book or whatever it was that discussed how we learned everything we needed to learn in kindergarten. The lessons we learned through playground equipment!

  2. L.Marie, I’m honored to have my post recommended by you on this subject. The grace/truth tension you write about here adds the perfect touch of insight into the arena of sorting through these times.
    (ps-preach it, sister!)

  3. Each day brings its own challenges when it comes to understanding what is going on in this world. You make a great case here for being aware of the truth of things and the possibility of grace in things. We’ll need to embrace both of those concepts if we are to move forward into a better world.

    • So true, Ally! I know it’s not easy. Many feel themselves to be on the knife edge–just a comment away from going totally off on someone. We are in desperate need of this tension.

  4. Linda Marie, thanks for the food for thought. I believe that grace can coexist with truth. The Old Testament law was superseded by grace, the gift of our Savior laying down his life to atone for our sins. Both show us how to live: a willingness to face the truth of our need for divine grace + strength to live graciously with our neighbor, now more than ever..

    As our pastor says in closing a service: “Grace be with you!” 🙂

  5. We tend to think of truth as pure goodness … like love, maybe because they are attributes we associate with God. The trouble is, we’re human beings. We only have a hazy understanding of what the truth is. I really do treasure truth, and this current period where facts are so twisted is painful for me. I try to remind myself to be humble, to remember my limitations. How do I know where the truth really lies? It’s out there, and since none of us can see the whole truth, we need to be kind to each other.

    • We do indeed, Nicki. I am amazed at how many statistics and opinions are quoted as “truth” in the news and on social media. No wonder so many feel depressed.

  6. Interesting post, LM.

    Since it’s difficult to know where the truth lies (and where lies supersede truth), I find it helpful to maintain a “maybe mind” with an “alert curiosity” about where we’re headed while trying to retain a balance between optimism and pessimism.

    And when things look grim, grace reminds me to bite my tongue and bide my time.

  7. Amen and thank you; for this post, for connecting us to to Laura Bruno Lilly’s latest post, and for Robert Madu’s sermon, which I have bookmarked. Thank you. I have never been adept at sewing, yet try, and try again to baste grace and truth together.

  8. Difficult times indeed! I wish more people would simply listen to each other before condemning each other as “evil” – a word that seems to be used more often and over more trivial things today than it used to be. I despair – and then I get angry and harrumph, and then I feel better! Don’t know if that falls into either the grace or the truth category though… 😉

    • A good, firm harrumph falls neatly between grace and truth. At least you’re not hitting someone over the head by harrumphing. Also, you’re not exactly in agreement with their boneheadedness. 😀

  9. Thank you! This is so timely, not only for the situation we are all in, but because of your words about all being children once. If we could all somehow hang on to that insight, it might keep us on that unsteady balance you describe. Grace is hard, harder to attain, I think, that truth, but every bit as necessary.

  10. Empathy takes us far in life. You are right, it is easy to complain, ignore, or put down, but when we are reminded of how we are all human and dealing with so much every day, we create space for listening and understanding.

  11. Wonderful post, Linda, and I love Jill’s analogy of children on a teeter-tooter (oh, goodness, what memories that evokes!). This really struck me: “When we see someone else with a fear that’s different from ours and we are tempted to judge.” There’s your truth with grace. Our lack of understanding each other. We’ve become so “tribal” that it’s like we refuse to understand or hear anyone not of our tribe. Whatever happened to community? Well, thank for you this post and reminding me of the tension between truth and grace. I try, although it’s so hard, to find that balance, especially when I’m talking with friends “who should better.” I have to stop and remind myself that their situations are different from my own. We are not all suffering exactly the same in this crisis, but we all need the truth given with grace.

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