Today’s blog is the third in a series of five with Scripture on the impact and importance of our words (see the previous posts). The following verses remind us of the importance of speaking words full of both grace and truth.
Read the gospels, and you’ll see that most sinners loved being around Jesus. They enjoyed His company, sought Him out, invited Him to their homes and parties. Today most sinners don’t want to be around Christians. Unbelievers tore off the roof to get to Jesus. Sometimes they crawl out the windows to get away from us!
Why is that? What did Jesus show them that we don’t?
People sensed that Jesus loved them, even when He spoke difficult words. He was full of grace and truth: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
If our words and our actions accurately demonstrate both the grace and truth of Jesus, some will be drawn to us and others will be offended by us—just as they were by Jesus.
Sometimes showing grace requires silence. Other times it requires speaking up. Your friend whose father is dying may be terrified to share Christ with him. Yet to do so is clearly in his best interests and his father’s. Share the truth; then offer him grace and help. Go with him if he needs your support. Likewise, if you see a friend making poor choices that may result in later grief, you owe him the truth.
Unfortunately, many nonbelievers know only two kinds of Christians: those who speak the truth without grace and those who are very nice but never share the truth. What they need to see is a third type of Christian—one who, in a spirit of grace, loves them enough to humbly tell them the truth.
Please reflect on what God’s Word has to say:
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies (Psalm 34:13).
A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free (Proverbs 19:5, 9).
The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful (Proverbs 12:22).
Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth (Proverbs 16:13).
Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet (Proverbs 29:5).
He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue (Proverbs 28:23).
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses (Proverbs 27:5-6).
A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful (Proverbs 14:25).
Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16).
Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you (Proverbs 9:7-8).
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).
An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up (Proverbs 12:25).
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Romans 14:19).
For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down (2 Corinthians 10:8).
We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening (2 Corinthians 12:19).
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (Colossians 4:6).
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:29-32).
I especially love that last passage, and am convinced that if believers truly took to heart Ephesians 4:29 (“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths”), it would radically change our conversations and online interactions. If we do so, we will be full of grace and truth—like our Lord and Savior.
Lysa TerKeurst writes,
I don’t know about you, but words laced with grace aren’t typically the first ones that come to mind when someone’s hurtful words have landed like daggers in my heart. I want to defend myself. And point out how they’re misunderstanding my intentions.
But just because speaking with grace is hard, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And Paul’s words to the Colossians remind us that our words matter.
Paul specifically wants us to consider our words in light of unbelievers, telling us in Colossians 4:5-6, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
And look at how Jesus models grace and truth in John 1:14, which says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (NIV). Every instance in the New Testament where we see grace and truth together is always connected to Jesus.
We are to be people of truth with grace-filled words. People who choose healing and helpful words. Because whether we realize it or not, believers and unbelievers alike are listening intently to the words we speak. They’re reading the words we type. And our words testify to the kind of relationship we have with Jesus and the kind of effect He has on our hearts.
So where is the hope in the midst of words that make our pulse race and our face flush? How do we keep our words full of grace?
We remember that Jesus doesn’t offer us partial grace. He doesn’t offer us halfway grace. Jesus gave, and continues to give, all-the-way grace. Grace that took Him all the way to the cross.
Oh, how we need to let this truth interrupt us and redirect us. The divine grace we receive from Christ should fuel our gracious natures and fill our conversations. Because we are people who desperately need grace, we should be people who lavishly give grace.
(Read the rest of her article When Giving Grace Feels Hard.)