Grace and Truth

The world can be harsh. Can we agree on that? There are so many out there who are quick to condemn, judge, bully, and nitpick.  Naysayers, complainers, and people who will rip into you with vitriolic spew just to make themselves feel better.

Then, of course, there's another category of people who aren't hateful and spiteful, but who just don't understand that "different" doesn't always mean "wrong." They may mean well, but they can certainly do their fair share of damage.

So what do we do? Well, unfortunately, most of us become overly sensitive. We get so bogged down by the onslaught of negative that we build a bubble around ourselves to protect against anything that might hurt. We surround ourselves with people who do as we do and say as we say and agree and affirm and smile and nod. Pats on the back, high fives and atta-boys abound.

But what if we're cutting ourselves off from the good along with the bad?

I've really been enjoying Matt Walsh's blog lately. I'm the first to admit his writing can be a bit scathing and not for everyone, but he says the things that all most some of us are thinking in a "let's-stop-beating-around-the-bush-and-get-it-all-out-in-the-open" type of way that can be a bit of oasis in this politically correct "I"m-okay-you're-okay" type of world. (Or am I the only one who sometimes feels more stifled than comforted in an everyone's-a-winner type of atmosphere?)

I recently stumbled upon and enjoyed his post titled Learn How to Take Criticism or Be Prepared to Fail at Life.

Is it just me or is the title alone uncomfortable?

Here's a sample:
I ask that you try an experiment. Just do this for a day. Just one day. Try to go about your day under the following four pretenses:

1) You are not perfect.

2) You could stand to improve in every single facet of your life.

3) People who point out your flaws or critique your actions aren't necessarily motivated by cruelty, hatred, and animosity.

4) Some people know how to do certain things better than you know how to do them, and you should be grateful if they take the time to offer you guidance and insight into their areas of expertise.


Ouch and Amen.

The Bible talks a lot about seasoning our words, and speaking graciously, etc. And I believe those things are true and worthy of striving for. In fact, one of my favorite writers, Sally Clarkson, is a beautiful representation of the balance between truth and grace and I hope I can be like her when I grow up. Unfortunately, we live in a broken world and a lot of really good feedback, insight, discipline, instruction, and yes, criticism, is not going to come wrapped up in the pretty, soft, comfortable package that's easy to swallow. But that doesn't mean it's best for me to outright reject it.

Verses about the importance of watching our tongue and seasoning our speech are plentiful. But so are verses about the wisdom of accepting discipline and reproof. And pride? The Bible has a LOT to say about pride.

The beauty in all of this is that we don't have to go it alone. When someone offers us a nugget of wisdom (or "wisdom"), we don't have to sort it out ourselves. We have the Holy Spirit to help with that. If we are open, humble, and ready to hear what he has to say, I believe he'll walk us through it. He'll burn off the ugly and untrue and uncover the beauty and wisdom. He'll smooth over the rough and the raw and help us accept what needs to be accepted and discard what doesn't apply. I don't know about you, but I desire to live in this beautiful balance called excellence and don't want my sensitive ego getting in the way. Even if it hurts.

Eph. 4:29, Col. 4:6, Prov. 15:1-2, James 1:26, Prov. 16:24, Matt. 12:36, Prov. 31:26, Heb. 12:11, Prov. 12:1, Prov. 6:23, Prov. 3:11-12, Job 5:17



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