Speaking Truth, Showing Grace

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Recently, in a sermon, I heard evangelism described as the combined work of truth and grace. Sharing our faith is not merely a matter of niceness or of stating the truth, this pastor suggested, but of coupling sincere kindness with a humble sharing of God's truth. Both elements are necessary in order to effectively reach others.
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This idea is beginning to make sense to me. I have long held the belief that if I am nice enough, distinct enough, people will wonder why and try to find out what makes me different. But is that truly enough? No one has ever approached me saying, "Amy, you are just so nice! Why is that? Is it because of Jesus?" Niceness is a necessity for evangelism, but alone it does not point others to Jesus. It is only one half of the equation.
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Consequently, I've come to agree with the pastor when he says we need to extend grace to others, but we need to do so while simultaneously proclaiming the truth about God, about what Jesus has done in our lives, and how His truth has transformed our own individual stories. I do not think preaching at people is effective, but I am beginning to see that sharing the story of our own lives and how God has worked in us, moved us, and changed us can be powerful and can potentially touch and transform the hearts of our listeners.
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This is one of my resolutions for 2010, to both show grace and speak truth to those around me. May God help me, because I realize this might be a more trying and challenging task than I imagine. But as I have been considering how I might go about sharing truth and extending grace this upcoming year, a couple thoughts occurred to me.
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First, in order to speak the truth, I first must know truth and how to express it well. Thus, another resolution: to study more intently the truth of God's Word, while considering how to express those gospel truths through the sharing of my own story.
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Second, evangelism is not something we merely do in a third world country or the inner city. We can practice evangelism amongst those closest to us, those who even may already believe in Christ. Speaking truth and showing grace should be a lifestyle, not a switch that is turned on whenever we find ourselves amongst unbelievers. I needed to be reminded of God's truth and I certainly need to be shown grace, thus shouldn't I do the same for my fellow brothers and sisters?
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This year, with God's help, I am going to focus my efforts on trying to remind those around me of God's truth while I also strive to be a living example of the grace God shows to all of us. I am going to try to open up my life and my heart and invite others to see the transforming power and love of the One who resides there.
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{To listen to the sermon that inspired these thoughts, see here.}
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