High Standards and High Forgiveness: A Path to Grace and Truth

What standard are you holding yourself to?
What space are you holding for forgiveness?

I’ve been contemplating and studying grace and truth. I struggle with emotional boundaries, and lately I have been challenged more frequently to step into situations where I need to lovingly offer grace while at the same time courageously bring truth.

I re-listened to a podcast this week on the subject from Epic Church of San Francisco. I was reminded that we are tasked to hold space both grace and truth at the same time. That is so hard! I can be all in on grace or all in on truth, but it’s been difficult to hold space for both.

On days I lead with truth I get a lot done. I challenge status quo, come up with new ideas, and don’t hesitate to courageously step out and push for change. I make tough decisions quickly centered on principles and standards. I am IN…THE…ZONE. Then sometimes I get so focused on what is to be accomplished that I trample on others, or say things so directly they cut. I can be quick to judge and slow to forgive on those days.

On days I lead wth grace I am welcoming and accepting. I spend extra time asking people how their day is and go out of the way to talk with someone I know is struggling. I ask thoughtful questions and offer space to make others feel welcome and accepted. Then sometimes when I don’t balance those grace-filled days with truth, I let things slide that I know are wrong. I avoid tough decisions. My standards slip.

I loved these words from The Gospel Coalition which offer this perspective:
If you are a grace person you are most concerned about being loved.  If you are a truth person you are most concerned about being right even it means being unloved. 

If we have truth without grace the result is often self-righteous legalism that pushes people away from Christ. If we have grace without truth moral indifference flourishes causing people to think that they don’t need Christ.

In or out of the Church, we need balance. A daily routine of setting a standard for the day through prayer and affirmation then taking time in the evening to reflect, understand, and forgive has been helping me create more of a balance with grace and truth.

When I feel hyper-focused in the morning and I know it will be a day naturally more inclined to truth, I start the day by praying for strength to be patient and filled with God’s grace. I say an affirmation like, “I am calm and loving.” At the end of the day, I take 5-10 minutes to reflect on how I did with grace and truth. I contemplate lessons from mistakes I made, pray for forgiveness, and let go to start fresh the following day.

When I wake up feeling relaxed and I know it will be a day naturally more inclined to grace, I start the day by praying for courage to challenge the status quo and take an extra step. I say an affirmation like, “I seek the truth and embody strength.” At the end of the day I take that same time to reflect, understand, pray, and let go of those times I didn’t live in truth.

In the most difficult moments, I recall the story from the Bible of the woman caught in adultery. Here Jesus offers us the perfect example of grace and truth in action. He offers grace AND truth. He offers forgiveness and love AND challenges her to live to a higher standard. To live a life of virtue.

How can you live a life of grace and truth? How can you challenge those you care about to do the same?

John 8:1-11 New Living Translation (NLT)
A Woman Caught in Adultery

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

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