Growing up we learned this verse. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Interestingly, there was never much focus on the verse afterwards which I believe is of equal importance.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17 Who doesn’t know John 3:16? Verse 17 is not so popular; however, I think it is so powerful as it states Jesus didn’t come to condemn us but to save us. A statement in another chapter of John really stood out at me recently. John 1:14 states that Jesus was full of grace and truth. It is no secret our world is polarized. We have those who are so full of “grace” that they accept everyone, overlook everything and stand for nothing. Their mantra is let’s not offend anyone because God is a God of grace and love. On the opposite extreme stands the legalist beating their Bible and pushing their religion down people’s throats because people MUST KNOW THE TRUTH! They judge others, are quick to point out faults and act in a self-righteous arrogant manner.
Which one is correct? Somehow Jesus models something radical – He was full of BOTH grace and truth. What does this mean? He didn’t water down the gospel. He didn’t sugar coat the truth or lower His standards but he didn’t come to condemn people. He came to save them. How does this work? When we share the unfiltered raw gospel message which tells people they are a sinner, what if that exposes their sins and make them feel a sense of guilt that makes us and them feel uncomfortable? If we teach God’s word and it highlights to someone that they are actually living in a way that is opposed to the standards of the Bible, we could get labeled as pushy or judgmental. It doesn’t bode well in our “politically correct” world. Shouldn’t we rather just love on them and keep what we believe to be the Truth to ourselves?
Jesus gives us example after example of preaching a truth that is almost impossible to follow because he refuses to lower His standards. He knows the way to the best life. “You have heard it say don’t commit adultery- I am going to go farther and say don’t even look lustfully at a woman..” “You have heard it said an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. I tell you if someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them your other cheek.” He speaks FULL of truth! Hard truths!
He sets a high standard because He knows the actions which will lead to an abundant life.
I can’t count the amount of people who have come back to me after hearing me teach them God’s word and said “Thank you. God’s words have changed my life for the better!”
But, we can’t condemn nor judge people. After all, if you are a Christian, you had to at one time admit you didn’t measure up and are in fact a sinner too. And following the example of Jesus in the example of the adulterous woman, He said the person who is without sin can throw the first stone (meaning NONE of us has any right to feel superior in any way to any one!) Our job is to love like Christ – being FULL of Grace and FULL of Truth. Our job is to share this amazing news that we have a loving Savior who died for us and remind people that one thing they can BANK on is that in Christ there is NO CONDEMNATION! Only salvation. Only love. Only freedom. Only peace. Only joy. Only love. It’s God’s kindness that leads people to Him, certainly not anyone’s snarky self-righteous attitudes. Ask God this week for the wisdom to find that balance to love others and teach the wonderful gospel but always in such a way it is portrayed for the GOOD NEWS that it is!
Ashley Thaba is a popular motivational speaker, team building facilitator, author and the Producer of a hit TV show offering practical advice to strengthen families and improve marriages! Episodes of her show can be downloaded from her website – www.ashleythaba.com.You can view some of her work on her YouTube channel: Ashley Thaba. You can buy three of her books, Dive In, Making Marriages Fun, and Conquering the Giants, on her website. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Facebook at: Talking with the Thabas