Truth & Grace

1 Corinthians 13:4-7Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

We are often, people of extremes.

Our anger gets the best of us, and the tirade that follows leaves a swath of destruction in its wake. Depression grips our soul, and we wallow for days, weeks, and sometimes years, never finding the door that will close off the vacuous sucking of our joy right out of our life.

We each are all addicted to some sin. Whether it is lying, overeating, gossip, critical words, anger, lust, cursing… But we tell ourselves – “Hey, at least I’m not that homeless guy begging for money for his next high”. We make less of our sin and more of others to salve our conscience. When the fact remains:

Romans 3:10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:”

Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

Addicted, by Webster’s definition means ‘devoted by customary practice’.

The practice of any behavior more than once is eligible to be considered a habit. Making it a recurring method in our life means we are addicted. If you are in opposition to this way of thinking, then stop that habitual sin. Remember, stopping one does not relieve us of the guilt of others – if we are to be free of that monicker ‘addict’, we must be able to stop it ALL.

Honestly, none of us can stop sinning. But what we can do, is have the right attitude toward our sin.

Keep short accounts with God.

Keeping a short account is the time from when the offense is committed and the time in which we kneel to confess and repent of that sin. Once we get the victory in a particular area, we tend to condemn those who fell to the same sin and maybe a bit over-zealous in letting them know just how ‘bad’ that particular sin really is.

If we could be balanced in our approach to such a one.

The perfect balance of truth and grace.

The truth may be that sin had a penalty and a punishment for which we are guilty as charged.

Grace would be the mercy and forgiveness that God extended to us being that which we give to others.

In 1 Corinthians 13, that word ‘charity’ today might mean a non-profit organization to which we give money. But biblically, it is representative of a very familiar word; “love”. We often do not take the time to define just what we mean when we say, “I love you”.

We might have familial love – a love for family (Greek – filial). We might have love for a friend (Greek – phileo). But that is not the type of love one might have physically for another (Greek – eros). Then there is a committed, unconditional love that God has for us (Greek – agape). But here , in 1 Corinthians, we translate to the word ‘charity’. Strong’s concordance describes it as a love feast or an abundant benevolence.

I find that a working definition might be best suited as “LOVE in action”.

We are all about the words expressing our love – but if no words were ever spoken, would we be able to be convicted of loving as profoundly as we say we do?

Do our actions reflect the depth of love we say we have toward our spouse, our children, our friends, our pastor, our nation, or our Savior? Or are they just words?

The balance of truth and grace in our lives is vital to the love we express. Giving someone the truth about their behavior without the grace to help them see the path to get right seems cold, calculating, and without any affection whatsoever.

Conversely, having all forgiveness without truth is compromising and permissive even to allow sin to be acceptable.

Hearing that I am a sinner; deserving of Hell is one thing. But, the fact that I don’t have to remain that way and to show me the way to be forgiven is that balance of grace and truth.

Charity means that I move to do something that reflects the love I say I have for the object of that love. We say those words so freely.

An abuser will often tell their victim “But, you know that I love you”. In that situation, it is an oxymoron. Their actions are in direct opposition to the words they speak. Love is not a verbal degrading of another human being. Love is not the physical beating of another. Love is not using sex as a weapon to control another. It is not the mental anguish inflicted on another to control their spirit.

God tells us in this chapter of Corinthians what love is not and how it is rightly expressed.

There are times when we may have to tell that one we love a hard truth; one that will sting and hurt when given. But when that one knows by our actions that we love them, it lessens the blow and makes the truth easier to accept.

When giving the truth in love, and when we love with truth; that balance will pervade all that we do. We are told:

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

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