Font Size » Large | SmallBy Rev. Dyrie Francis We began to have the uncomfortable feeling that something was amiss in our older, unmarried son’s life. Due to his employment situation, he had relocated out of state. Things seemed in order at first, but it wasn’t long until we sensed something wasn’t right. Yet the disclosure over a phone call that he was about to father a child was devastating. Our hearts were broken for God’s holiness, innocence lost, our son’s pain of carrying this secret alone for many months, and the vast consequences of his action. As I sobbed uncontrollably, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Extend the same grace to him that you give to others in your church.” After a long pause, my son asked softly, “Are you going to kill me, Mom?” My son later related how shocked he was to hear me say, “I am a parent, not God. Right now, you need support, not condemnation.” Next was the exercise of truth, for grace and truth go together. We had to confront our son’s sin and talk of repentance. God is gracious, as our son assured us that he had repented before God. While we extend God’s grace, we continue to pray that the truth of His Word will renew and transform our son’s mind and heart. On January 1, 2018, we were blessed with a wonderful first grandchild, a beautiful little girl, Christine Noelle. She is a delight and a joy! The truth is that children (and grandchildren) are blessings from the Lord (Psalm 127:3; 128:5-6), even if their parents violated God’s laws. Have you considered what a difference you can make by offering grace and truth to the people you encounter each day? Jesus was noticeably “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). As children of God, we are called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to reflect God’s grace and truth to others in a variety of circumstances. Consider what a difference the smallest of light makes in a darkened room, or a pinch of salt adds to a breakfast egg! In the same manner, we can be God’s agent of grace and truth to others. God desires us to give grace without compromising truth and to present the truth with grace. The question is how do we incorporate grace and truth in personal relationships and self-care in 2018? A significant starting point is to examine the Scriptures for the way Jesus responded to the variety of people He encountered in his family, ministry, and the public. During His earthly ministry, Jesus experienced the emotional challenges of unbelieving, unsupportive siblings (Mark 3:20-21), betrayal of trust by close ministry partners (Matthew 26:14-15), the disappointment of unresponsive hearers (John 6:25-27, Matthew 21:23-27), and the harsh condemnation from religious leaders (Mark 3:22-27; Matthew 26:3-4). But instead of retaliating or alienating himself from people, Jesus exuded grace and truth in His interactions (Luke 4:22). The woman accused of adultery received grace and truth which liberated her and restored her hope in God and was cautioned to “sin no more” (John 8:11). In contrast, the judgmental religious leaders got a strong dose of the truth (John 8:3-7; Matthew 23). The bottom line is that God hates sin but loves the sinner (Mark 2:17, Matthew 9:36; John 3:16, 17; Romans 5:8). Also, Jesus’ self-identity as God’s Son (Mark 1:10-11) could not be shaken by attacks from His enemies or detractors (Luke 4:16-30). We can learn from His example to offer grace to others while upholding the truth of God’s Word (Galatians 6:1-2; Colossians 3:13). People may test our resolve by their conduct, but we need to give grace whether or not it is deserved as a witness of Christ’s love in us. In the case of self-care, we must believe the Scriptures that we are children of God (John 1:12), we are no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1), we cannot be separated from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39), we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37, we can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13), and we can tap into God’s grace when necessary (Hebrews 4:16). We must stand firm in our spiritual identity as children of God and resist self-condemnation and Satan’s accusations (Revelation 12:10; 1 Peter 5:8-9). Perhaps those in ministry find it more difficult to offer grace to their family. Then the pendulum tends to lean more towards truth than grace. Yet our children are equally vulnerable to temptation as other believers that receive grace in times of brokenness. Some readers may not identify with our story. Regardless, all of us will encounter people in our circles who need grace and truth in a balanced way. You may also need to apply grace to yourself instead of self-condemnation for some breach (private or public) in your life. God is gracious and merciful. The world needs to see the exercise of grace and truth among God’s people. The Psalmist attests to our mutual vulnerability: “Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you” (Psalm 130:3-4, NLT). Here are some lessons I learned from my recent experience: 1. Instilling “holy fear” in our children or others does not insulate them from the pressures of the culture. 2. We need to maintain an open line of communication with our children at all times. 3. We should let our children and others know their value is greater than the negative or positive choices they make. 4. We must pray daily for our children (even adult ones) and discern what the Holy Spirit may be revealing about their lives. 5. Parents need especially to place their children at the foot of the cross and declare God’s promises over their lives. 6. Children or others in crisis need loving support rather than condemnation and/or rejection. 7. Parents need to resist self-blame and feelings of shame and to accept God’s grace to heal their own pain. May we experience and share generously a “grace and truth-filled” year! *I want to thank our son for giving me permission to share a bit of our painful, personal journey in the hope that it will encourage another Christian family to extend God’s grace to a fallen family member or ministry associate.