Imagine if you had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with an expert in an area in which you really could use help. Or, what if a famous PGA golfer hits the brakes in front of your house after he notices your tragic efforts at swinging a golf club? He then climbs out of his car with an offer of personal instruction. What if you need a money makeover and Dave Ramsey happens to call you to get together to plan your path to financial freedom?
Now—and I’m just making this up—suppose that when your personal expert finally appears, his breath is awful. As he blows his much-needed wisdom at you, the garlic cloves in your cupboard start to shrivel up and die. Is it possible that this person actually digested a skunk? No matter how good and necessary the content of his conversation, you no longer want to hear it. You need space. You need oxygen. The message may be clear and good for your ears to hear, but your nose wants nothing to do with it.
Sometimes we have some important things to say to our Christian brothers and sisters, but the way we say it directly affects the way they receive our message. Sharing your message with harshness, a critical spirit, a condescending attitude, anger, or even a scowl is like communicating wonderful things with terribly bad breath. The person you are talking to could completely miss out on the benefits of your message simply because of the way you deliver it.
God cares about more than just the words you say. He also cares about how you say those words. It is not enough always to say the truth; you must also say the truth in love.
The Lord Jesus Christ provides the greatest model of a person with zeal both to know and to apply the truth of God. Although He knew the truth better than anyone who ever lived, He was never guilty of selfishly showing off His understanding of the Scriptures. While He used the Word of God to correct and admonish others who needed it, His necessary corrections came accompanied with virtues such as love, gentleness, and kindness. These virtues can be summarized as graciousness.
The apostle John describes Jesus as “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). For zealous Christians to faithfully follow their Lord, they must pursue God’s truth in their minds and practice, but they must also intentionally cultivate graciousness in their hearts and lives.
Excerpt: Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love by John Crotts