Bob Tamasy: Can We Handle The Truth – With Grace?

Monday, July 10, 2017 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

“You can’t handle the truth!” This classic line from the film, “A Few Good Men,” resonates today because it seems many people have problems handling the truth – or even recognizing what it is. 

Truth faces uphill battles these days. We hear claims of “fake news” or “fake facts.” (And that’s just from kindergarten classrooms!) Politicians point to each other, and the mess – I mean, mass – media with accusations of fabricating falsehoods or intentionally distorting the truth. Entire websites are devoted to propagating fictitious news stories, sometimes disguised as satire. Outrageous “reports” get posted on social media, and darned if hundreds of people don’t fall for the hoaxes. It’s increasingly hard these days to distinguish truth from fiction.

In the midst of this “truth crisis,” the quiz show “To Tell the Truth” has been revived. It originally ran from 1956 to 1968, featuring guests with unusual occupations or personal distinctions, as is the case with the newer version. In each segment, one guest is telling the truth. The other two are imposters, posing as the person to be revealed., By asking a series of questions, panelists seek to discern who’s telling the truth and who’s not. Sometimes, the charlatans appear more truthful than the real deal. 

Believers today are also wrestling with truth, but in a different sense. The truth has always been bedrock to Christianity. Jesus Christ claimed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We are convinced as well that the Bible is God’s inspired Word, His truth about who He is, who we are, and how we should live. Jesus prayed for His disciples, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). 

Because of this, we assert the truth is non-negotiable. At the same time, God didn’t call for us to bludgeon others with the truth, wielding it as a spiritual club in our attempts to persuade others to understand and accept it. Because inherent to the truth of the Scriptures is His unconditional love and His grace, the Lord’s unmerited favor extended to all who will receive it. This leads to a tension – the struggle to balance God’s revealed truth with His grace, which no one could ever earn or deserve. 

Because it can feel awkward to present both at the same time, many of us tend to lean toward one or the other – black-and-white, unyielding truth, or grace, which often seems more welcoming. But as pastor J. D. Greear recently noted (and others before him), we haven’t the option of choosing one or the other.  

Greear stated, “Truth without grace is fundamentalism; grace without truth is vapid sentimentalism.” Both are indispensable to the gospel message. But it’s a great tension – presenting the truth in a gracious manner, as well as discussing grace in the light of God’s truth. 

I’ve wrestle with this often. I’m inclined to be blunt, speaking the truth from the Scriptures as I’ve come to understand it, firing from the hip. To borrow Greear’s terms, none of that “vapid sentimentalism” for me. However, a 100 percent dose of truth, without the softening effect of grace, can come across as harsh, legalistic, judgmental, rigid and insensitive. When I was first confronted with God’s truth, thankfully it was offered with an equal portion of grace. 

Jesus never minced words about the truth: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Many of us have experienced this in our own lives, finding the teachings and principles of the Scriptures are not restrictive, as some would contend, but liberating, affording us the joy of becoming what God has intended for us to be. 

Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus made bold, seemingly outrageous claims that if untrue, would earn Him status as either the greatest liar in the history of the world, or insane. He was neither. At the same time, the gospels often show His interactions with others as being filled with love and compassion. He sought to relate to people exactly where they were – not where He wanted them to be or thought they should be. Our approach in presenting His truth to others should follow His example. 

This is why 1 Peter 3:15 admonishes: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” We’re to hold fast to the truth – that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord, the only way to God. But we’re also to respond to those who inquire about our faith with grace, “with gentleness and respect.” 

Another of my favorite evangelistic verses expresses it this way: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). Just as Jesus always responded with the right words for the right occasion, our prayerful desire should be to do the same whenever opportunities arise. Then, others may be able to handle the truth they hear from us.

----
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


Eric Youngblood: The Curious Case Of The Talking Dinner Plate

We are richer than I previously realized. You know how I know? A dinner plate told me. Really. A nearly 22-year-old dinner plate assured me of previously unconsidered riches one evening. Don't worry. It didn't actually speak to me. But its presence communicated a hidden world of wealth to me. As I hastily (and rarely!--as some might want to clarify ... (click for more)

Church Of Latter-Day Saints President Monson Honored In Chattanooga

Mormons from the greater Chattanooga area gathered Friday to pay tribute to the late President Thomas S. Monson, a mighty prophet of God and 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Funeral services were broadcast from the Salt Lake City Conference Center where over 21,000 attended.  Tens of thousands around the world watched the live broadcast, ... (click for more)

BlueCross Sells Huge Tract Along River For $8.1 Million

BlueCross BlueShield has sold a huge tract along the riverfront in Lupton City for $8.1 million. The purchaser is listed as Riverton LLC., 651 E. 4th St., Suite 403, Chattanooga. BlueCross had bought the 216-acre site in 2001 as a possible site for its corporate headquarters. However, it wound up building a $299 million campus on Cameron Hill instead. BlueCross started ... (click for more)

1 Person Injured In Duplex Fire In East Lake Wednesday Night

One person was injured when fire broke out in a duplex Wednesday night in East Lake. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at  11:53  p.m. on  Wednesday  and responded to the 4800 block of General Thomas Boulevard with several fire companies. When the first firefighters arrived on the scene, Captain Chris Cordes with Engine 9 said a significant ... (click for more)

Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thank you, Dr. King for stepping-out.  Thank you for your lasting voice to what it's all about. Thank you, Dr. King for  stepping up and also showing-up, ...when decisions were being made and  your refusal  to shut-up.  We find your fingerprints on both directions and toward progress.  your modeling, mentoring,  and reactions helps ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: This Is Not A Drill

Last Saturday morning in paradise, at 8:07 to be precise, an alert appeared on every cell phone that read: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” I can envision no greater horror than having to ask myself how much time do I have, and what is the wisest way to spend it? It was a long and dreadful 38 minutes until the correction ... (click for more)