They were trying to trap Him again; they were trying to find something to use against Jesus to prove He was some kind of heretic. Again. They disturbingly caught a woman in adultery and threw her to the streets, large stones in their hands ready to kill her. She was to die at the hands of these men, because truth without grace is harsh. “The law of Moses says this woman should be killed! What do you say?!” they demanded to know. But instead of answering right away, Jesus starts writing in the dust of the streets. He lowers Himself to where this woman is probably lying terrified and draws. When He rises, He says, “okay. Go ahead. And whoever has never sinned should throw the first stone.” He kneels down again and begins to write in the dusty streets while the men walked away and until all that was left was Jesus, this saved woman, and these big stones. “Where are your accusers? Does nobody condemn you?”
“No…” she says (I imagine through teary and astonished eyes).
“Neither do I. Now go and leave your life of sin.”
Neither do I. Grace.
Now go and leave your life of sin. Truth.
If Jesus had only operated in grace with her, or with us, there would be no accountability, no change. She would have kept sleeping with men who weren’t her husband, and we would still be going strong with whatever we wanted to do. If He had only operated in truth, she would have been stoned, and we would all be facing the death we deserved.
Jesus balanced grace and truth in His interaction with this woman then, and in His relationship with us now. His grace, His unmerited favor, covers our lives and the truth He brings with Him charges us to live more and more like Him. And since He perfectly covers and charges us with grace and truth, we are also to live in the tension and balance between the two. His ministry model now becomes ours, but how do we do this in a world that’s not very graceful and insists on making truth a buffet?
It’s impossible to live like Jesus without His Spirit-the first guiding factor we need to balance grace and truth in our lives.
Truth is not subjective, nor does it does not come in various sizes according to our wants or preferences which is where our great wrestle with God comes into play. But whose truth will we choose to guide us? Our own “truth,” or God’s truth? And how will we share the truth with others? With big stones and poor motives on Facebook so everyone has a chance to throw their rock? Or balanced with grace and brought on by pure motives?
If we tend to put more weight towards truth, let’s be aware of our motives. Let’s take note of the way in which we speak God’s truth. And let’s follow Ephesians 4:15 which says to speak the truth in love to become more and more like Christ.
On the other end of the scale balancing out truth is grace, and too much weight towards grace will leave us with a doctrine of emotionalism with good vibes and zero accountability. Jesus gives us grace not as a license to sin, but to live above sin and mediocrity. He doesn’t want to stop at just good vibes (grace) with us, but wants to chase grace with truth so we are empowered to live above, to live our fullest, and to live in the perfect tension of grace and truth. Grace saves us, and truth convicts us.
Let’s ask and learn to live in the tension, and to be balanced with grace and truth. We will win people, which is exponentially better than only winning arguments.