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Grace and Truth



In disorienting and divisive times, what does it look like for the people of Jesus to navigate the culture with both grace and truth?

This week, Ben Stuart finishes our series on the Sermon on the Mount with a timely word about how to live full of grace for the people around us while still standing firm on the truth of the Word of God.

Key Takeaway

It's grace and truth, not one or the other. We are people full of grace so we can extend grace. But because we love, we also tell the truth. Jesus has given us guiding principles to live by and asks us to trust Him with the outcome.

We have guiding principles from a King who's asking us to trust Him. That's what the Sermon on the Mount is about.

John summarizes Jesus as full of grace and full of truth. See John 1:14. Therefore, we are people of grace and people of truth.

As people of grace, we will not be harshly critical. Matthew 7:1 says judge not, that you be not judged. Jesus isn't dismissing law courts or saying not to be discerning about the morality of words and deeds. He's not saying don't use your judgment; He's saying don't be judgemental. Paul and James expand further on what Jesus is saying. See Romans 14:10 and James 4:11.

Being judgemental means that we despise and speak evil to each other. We are not the Judge, and He's not inviting us to help Him. We're not qualified for that role. We're going to be to judged by Him.

Matthew 7:3-5

Specks and logs. Jesus's point is that we're all a mess. Let's start with self-reflection, not harsh criticism. Introspection helps us see our own defects of character.

Matthew 7:6

Don't cast pearls. Some people are going to attack you for trying to help them after you've dealt with yourself. They are not ready for change, and you can back away from them. It's ok to do that.

Matthew 7: 7-11

Ask your Father. Again, this is where we see the Sermon on the Mount on a loop. It's scary to look inward and deal with yourself and your shortcomings. Blessed are the poor in Spirit, ask, and it will be given to you. Our Father is a good Father. He's not going to hurt us or condemn us. He'll be gracious and kind.

When we analyze our shortcomings that's when we'll feel the most unworthy, so Jesus reminds us that we are not harsh critics, but we are humbly confident. Humble because we know we're sinners, but confident because we have a Father who loves us.

Ask. Seek. Knock. It's not desperation; it's the confidence of a child. This is the rhythm of the Christian. We're not harshly critical, we come in humility, recognizing our own shortcomings, and He meets us with grace, so we have grace to give to others.

Matthew 7:12

The Golden Rule. In the ancient world, this saying was said often but in a negative connotation. "Don't do to others what you wouldn't want done to you." It's good advice, but Jesus pivots it. Sure, don't do things you don't want done to you, but also do to others what you would want done to you. You don't want your flaws put on display in public, so let's not do that to each other in culture. Let's pray more than we persecute. Let's draw into grace and then extend our grace.

Living by grace doesn't mean we get to live by "you do you". In the same sermon, Jesus talks about grace and truth. It's not one or the other.

Matthew 7:13-14

Enter the narrow gate. There are 2 paths. The broad road leads to death. The narrow road means you have to leave behind the things of the world (arrogance, pride, lust, etc), and it's hard, but it leads to life. Jesus's truth is exclusive. That's not harmful; that's Him capturing your heart. To deny truth is to be unloving. You may not like what Jesus is saying, but He says these things and then backs it up by dying for you out of love.

Matthew 7:15-20

Look for fruit. Beware of people who look, think, and talk like you but twist the truth. This happens all the time, the Church is not immune, and it takes time to see it. If you want to know if someone is leading a false life, look at the fruit. When you trust God's truth, you lead a different life. A good tree bears good fruit. Christians are people who have received grace and believed the truth, and both are lived out in our lives. We have the consistency of life and message. We don't peddle un-applied truth. Falsehood distorts the text, but also the content of their character and their influence on the community is divisive and cruel. If the back end of your life is chaos, you need to change the inputs. You need a change of heart and in life, and then you'll have a change in activity.

Matthew 7:21-23

Know Him. All the people who are religious but had no changed life come to Jesus expecting to be welcomed into Heaven. Jesus will say He doesn't know them and will tell them to depart.

Matthew 7:24-27

Build on the Rock. Hearing His words and doing them is building your life on a strong foundation. You see what you're made of when a storm hits. Are you built on the sand of self-preservation or on the rock of Jesus?

Matthew 7:28-29

He is all authority. Jesus centers Himself at the center of the message. We will go to Him in the end. And all of this would seem crazy if it weren't true. He lived the perfect life, died for us, and beat death for us. We are so afraid of death, but He has made a way for us to be with Him, the King. In Him, the power of God works in and through us to reach the world.


"If we put ourselves sensitively in the place of the other person and wish for him what we wish for ourselves, we would never be mean. We would always be gracious. Never harsh, always understanding. Never cruel, always kind."

John Stott

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Scripture References

  • John 1:14
  • Romans 14:10
  • James 4:11-12
  • Matthew 7
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.