Full of Grace and Truth
John 1:14 tells us that Jesus is “full of grace and truth.” It’s an amazing thought. In Jesus Christ, God is manifested in a way man could see and touch and hear and understand. We know God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, so He must be the perfect embodiment of truth, and when this Truth came to us, it was to bring glad tidings of grace upon grace, even though that good news cost Him His life. He is full of grace and truth. No one has ever been more truthful and no one has ever been more gracious because He is perfectly filled up with both.
So why are we so often told that we need to have balance between grace and truth? I can’t count how many times I’ve heard something along those lines. It is presented as if these concepts are in tension and Christian maturity has the correct balance between the two. A graceless person might be said to “lean too much on truth and not have enough grace,” or someone who has few convictions might be told, “It’s good to be gracious, but we need truth as well.” This perspective has a deficient understanding either grace or truth or both.
Grace and truth are so intertwined that we cannot have one without the other. Satan is the father of lies, yet his lies mix in a little truth for believability. That’s what all good liars do, and it’s what makes discernment so essential. We have to be able to separate the truth from falsehood and to understand that if falsehood is mixed in with the truth, the statement is a lie. When we are sworn in as a witness, we promise to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” because a truth can become a lie by omitting essential parts of it or mixing falsehood in with it. Those who are said to “lean too much on truth and don’t have enough grace” would be guilty of perjury if they did it on the witness stand. We’re called as witnesses and as God’s witnesses, we need to be held to the high standard of telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Grace is an essential part of the truth.
Likewise, someone who has no convictions and doesn’t consider anything to be wrong isn’t showing grace because grace is by definition showing favor to the undeserving. If we say everyone is deserving of that favor, then we aren’t showing grace. Grace calls sin sin and then counts it nailed to the cross.
So, “grace” without truth is not grace at all, and “truth” without grace is a lie.