In understanding how grace and truth are applied in a person’s life, we must also understand when it is appropriate to transition from grace to truth and address the sin. This transition is crucial. You want to give grace time to do its work. God works through grace – allow Him time to do His work. When we move too quickly to truth we run the risk of applying the same ‘black & white’ approach the Pharisees used. As I said in my previous post, truth is very important, but if it is not ready to be received it won’t matter how persuasive your argument is.
Aside from those God ordained moments, truth is best applied when it is welcomed. When a person gives you opportunity to speak into their life. This can be as simple as them joining a small group, requesting to become a member, or even approaching you concerning an issue of sin in their life. Applying truth is really about you holding their lives up to the standard of scripture. When this standard is applied at their request – when they have opened that door – they will be be much more open to what you have to say.
Our timing is important. The vehicle we use to present truth is also key. As individuals give us opportunity we need to present truth out of relationship. Sometimes that relationship might simply be pastor-to-hurting person. Sometimes it might be a closer relationship than that – possibly a leader or a neighbor. Just as God has shown us grace and truth through His relationship with us as our Creator, so we need to express His love, grace and truth through the vehicle of relationship. Truth applied in a situation where you’re just being dogmatic doesn’t usually turn out well. Make sure your motives our right. Bring truth out of genuine concern and through relationship.
When we help apply truth to a person’s life of sin at the right, God-ordained moment through relationship, we can see sin become a past memory rather than a present obstacle in a person’s life. And isn’t that what ministry is really all about anyway?