A meditation to Ephesians 4:15.
CARING compassion cares enough to straddle two divergent poles: grace and truth.
Such is love that it insists on spending itself so the other person might experience grace within the context of a most essential truth. There is no other way to express or experience love than through that ingenious meld of grace and truth.
Grace without truth is not love. Truth without grace is not love. Love can only be completed in our relational settings when we do such a caring approach: to combine grace with truth. Love combines grace with truth.
It will take longer to communicate gracefully. It will take more skill to broach truth.
But it will be the only way we can enter into conflict respectfully, knowing the relationship is not contingent on who ‘wins’ or ‘loses’.
Conflict must be about more than winning and losing. Conflict needs to be about the truth, yet the truth falters and fails and dissolves into untruth without the fission of grace. Conflict needs to be about the common goal and the common good. Otherwise, conflict makes a mockery of both sides. Is there anyone more ‘right’ than the person polarised into their own corner?
But in the unison of grace with the truth we have our way of sowing love into the impasse.
When people sense we’ve put our agenda on the backburner the hope is they might reciprocate. Conflict resolution where there’s no reciprocation is doomed. But most conflicts are negotiable, and grace and truth are the ways there.
How are we to really wrestle with the conflicts of our life if we can’t be honest?
First, we must be honest with ourselves — we don’t have the market cornered on truth; never have had and never will. Chances are we have extended the grace God apportioned for us to give to them, to ourselves. This is not good. Nothing can be resolved if we don’t first engage with our side of the impasse; our sin.
Second, we must be able to be honest with the other party; that’s where grace and truth is crucial. We begin with our truth; where we have fallen short. If they’re decent technicians of reciprocation we can anticipate them forgiving us our wrong and possibly owning some of their sin. But to expect reciprocation sets us up for possible disappointment. We go into the resolving of conflict with high hopes but low expectations.
If two can embrace conflict, through reciprocation of the ownership of their personal sin, interpersonally, the relationship stands a chance of survival and growth.
Conflicts have hope for resolution where space is made for grace and room is made for truth. Let love combine them.
Let love be complete in the marriage of grace with truth.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.