Pairing Conviction With Compassion

Mercy and truth preserve the king, and by mercy he upholds his throne. (Proverbs 20:27, NKJV, emphasis mine)

It’s no secret that in order to grow in wisdom and honor, one must learn to balance grace with truth. And yet we often live as though this thought was a carefully encrypted riddle hidden away in some lost cavern, hopelessly beyond our deciphering.

To extend compassion without truth is a disservice to all, keeping people forever weak and whining about how pitiful life is. Likewise, to expose truth outside the confines of love lacks wisdom. “You know what is right; suck it up and be a man,” has its own limitations and problems. To link the two – grace and truth – provides great security for both the giver and the recipient.

Let’s face it, there are a LOT of things we could all stand to improve upon. But perhaps the thing that would cause the most positive effect is simply learning to love others as we would like to be loved ourselves… with lots of mercy and truth.

There are plenty of folks who swing high on either end of the pendulum, but strangely enough, there seems to be a shortage of folks who love consistently with both grace and truthfulness. We need look no further than the nearest facebook post to see the wild arcing of  a world hastening to judge and condemn the beliefs and actions of others. And just as quickly as a post is, well… posted, there are a host of commentators arguing from the opposite end of the spectrum. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of love sown, and any balance of grace and truth is generally lost in translation. Perhaps because it was never even a thought in the argument.

While we can chant the mantra What would Jesus do? until we are blue in the face, the sad fact is we seldom live it. And yet we wonder why the world remains aloof from the draw of Christ Christians. Perhaps it is because we live so sparingly from the resources of God’s kingdom.

To see the flaws of others and still choose to love is what preserves relationships. Living out your convictions with humility and integrity speaks volumes, especially when you do so without “forcing” your ideals upon those who may be in disagreement with you. After all, it is not up to you to turn the hearts of men; that position has already been filled quite ably through Another.

It’s interesting to note that shortly after calling the twelve disciples to Himself (see Luke 6), Jesus shares the message commonly known as  the “Beatitudes.”  And while many of us Christians can quote several of these verses by heart, I daresay, we all struggle to live out their directives. Surprisingly, the list is not a comprehensive course study on “thou shalt nots.” Rather, it is a call to maturity that begs the hearer to listen and live the words of Christ.

As much as we might be tempted to believe, true maturity is not found in whether you drink alcohol or not; whether you watch movies containing profanity or not; whether you struggle to dress modestly or to avert your eyes from those who dress less than modestly; whether you do _______ or do not ________; etc.

True maturity is found by living in grace and truth. By living with hearts softened to the call of the Father asking us to bear the burdens of the weak, even when those burdens are made heavier by the deliberate intent of others.

True maturity prays for its enemies and loves the very ones who disagree with its convictions.

True maturity honors God by honoring its neighbor and living a life of integrity, even when no one can see.

True maturity is more concerned about its own attitudes and actions than the seeming immaturity and faults of others.

True maturity lives the unexpected path of grace wrapped up in the truth of Jesus Christ.

It follows the voice of the Savior calling it to do good (v. 27), rather than to simply be good by fulfilling a list of rules.

If you are finding yourself struggling to live out this balance of grace and truth, I encourage you to take your walk with Jesus beyond just the law, and live the way of mercy with others. Let “the buck stops here” reside in your own heart instead of casting responsibility elsewhere. Live with open ears to listen to the voice of  the Spirit, and allow Him to lead you ever onward toward this journey of abundant life – His way – as you live your convictions with compassion.

And above all, have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

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