“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14 KJV (emphasis mine)
As disciples of Christ, we are called to model him and treat people the way he treated them. Why did I highlight the Grace and Truth part of the bible verse above? Is there a connection between the two? What happens if you exhibit only one of the two? How do you practically apply somthing like this?
Grace and truth are complements of each other. One without the other is destructive to relationships. If you need to correct someone for an error in judgement, for example, the manner in which you tell them about it will determine their response. I would guess, for most of us, speaking to someone in grace and truth is not something that comes to mind, especially if we are in an agitated state.
Too much truth and little to no grace is harsh and devaluing. The receipient usually feels attacked and frequently gets defensive. Once in a defensive mode, the person will not respond well to this, or any additional, feedback. Any hope of changing future behavior will be more difficult. Many times, if this approach is repeated, the relationship is damaged to the point where a tremendous amount of work needs to be done to restore the relationship.
On the flip side, too much grace and not enough truth doesn’t help either. Too much grace typically looks like the person is getting away with too much; too many strikes. That may be good for the person who is having trouble, but for others, it may cause a certain level of resentment. Also, by not addressing the issue at hand, nothing is going to change. The same issues will continue indefinitely.
The solution is to deliver the news/correction with both truth and grace. In application, there is a great acronym that prompts you to ask a series of questions before you say anything. That acronym is T.H.I.N.K. You’ve heard “Look before you leap.” This is “THINK before you speak.”
Is what you are about to say…
The “T” is obviously the truth part of it, the rest are grace.
If you answered “No” to any of those, you should rethink your approach before you say anything. Even though you may have the urge to blast someone if you are unhappy about something, attacking them will not make things better. If you take the time to think through your response, you will find that the person will be more responsive and willing to make changes.