The first dimension relates to our willingness to project truth. On your
Jesus believed that wherever it was championed, the truth would set us free. But he also knew that the inverse was true. Whenever we hold back truth, it destroys freedom. We become enslaved to people and their bad behaviors. One reason difficult people become so difficult is because we enable their behavior. We value our security so much that we refuse to take a risk and speak the truth. We don’t show people the truth of how their behavior impacts us and other people. We don’t show people the truth of how their lack of character diminishes their credibility, destroys workplace morale, impacts their relationships with God, damages their families, or whatever.
We assume that they see their behavior as we see it. We assume that they know how destructive their words and actions are. We assume that they know how deeply they are hurting us and those around them. And so we just keep quiet! In the end we allow ourselves to become enslaved to their senseless behavior because we don’t have the courage to project the truth and say to them, "Hey! Enough. Here is the damage you are causing. Here is what I see. Here is what others see. Here is God’s assessment. Here is cause and effect."
The truth is that most of the difficult people in our lives have no clue how they truly make us feel or how their behavior is impacting us. No one ever tells them! They are the way they are because no one has taken the risk and clued them in. Our problem isn’t knowing the truth, it is projecting the truth. It is telling our teenager, our mom or dad, our boss, our supervisor, our coworker, our pastor, our teacher, our neighbor, that difficult person in our life, "This is how your behavior is impacting me." It is putting an end to the falsehoods that enable their bad behavior.
We must be willing to project grace.
The second dimension relates to our willingness to project grace. On your bulletin draw a horizontal line across your page. On the left end of the line write "withholds grace" and to the right write "projects grace." This refers to our ability to show concern or regard for other people. Our ability to discipline our tongues and bodies, to take the high road, to convey warmth, to seek the ultimate good for another person, to build up and not destroy, and to forgive. Contrary to popular opinion, the ability to project grace takes tremendous inner character and strength. It is a quality that is truly of God. And it is in no way a sign of weakness.
The importance of grace is captured in 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV). "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." Love means staying above the fray. It means seeking understanding before doing something or saying something foolish. It means being favorably disposed, even toward our enemies. It means being full of the fruit of the Spirit which includes things like peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, and self-control. Love never provokes sin, neither in us or other people. It draws out the best in people, no matter how obnoxious or selfish or cruel they may be.
The challenge for us is to harmonize grace and truth with people and to demonstrate Christ-like behavior. In the upper right hand corner write "Christ-like behavior." So our goal is to project truth while also projecting grace. We need to stand up for what is right while also showing the love of Jesus Christ. To not show either truth or grace at the expense of the other individually, but always to show truth and grace together. So let’s talk about what we typically do wrong when dealing with difficult people.
I'm saving that part for tomorrow's post... so be sure to check back in...
While you are waitingt, take a few moments & draw out the diagram the author suggested... then will you ponder with me... "which quadrant do I think I fall into?"
For me, I think i lean a little to hard on projecting grace and not enough on projecting truth... I get scared that truth will hurt someone, so I get very nervous... is it my truth or is it God's truth? So I tend to err on the side of grace... is that a bad thing? I don't think so... HOWEVER, I need to speak truth too...to myself & sometimes to others! It is my hope & prayer that I am moving toward a balanced projection of grace & truth-to become more Christ-like in my behavior everyday!