Truth Can . . .


Truth can be so destructive.

Or more accurately said, truth all by itself can be destructive. Like a quotation taken out of context so it appears to say something different, even contradictory, to what the original speaker had in mind.

The person said the words, but the quotation didn’t say all the words.

In Luke 7:36 – 50, a woman comes into a room where Jesus is eating and she falls at his feet. She wets his feet with her tears and uses her hair to wash them. She anoints his feet with expensive perfume.

A respected Jewish leader, Simon, sees all this and says to himself: “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

Simon was right. She had a history of sexual immorality with no evidence she’d changed her ways. And Simon knew a lot about God (the God Jesus was supposed to be representing), and before God, she was guilty. It was all true.

But it wasn’t all that was true.

In response, Jesus tells a parable to bring in the bigger context—what’s actually happening at this table, what “sort of person” she is . . . and what sort of person Jesus is. Then Jesus looks at the woman and asks what I think is one of the most profound questions in the New Testament: “Simon, do you see this woman?”

Truth is, he hadn’t. Simon saw the truth of her sin, her disregard for male-female cultural boundaries, Jesus’ peculiar lack of concern for the things that so occupied Simon’s own attention.

The difference between the two men, the difference between Simon’s small truth and Jesus fuller truth, was mercy.

In Christ’s hands, truth comes with mercy and for mercy’s sake. He uses truth not like a bludgeon to crush but like a sword to separate where a person ends and sin begins. He doesn’t like collateral damage. Mercy stays truth where it would be brash, slows it down and more fully informs it.

With mercy, truth has context. And where it would otherwise only condemn, truth can now beautifully and heroically rescue.

Do you agree? Does mercy give context to truth? I’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with others by leaving a comment here. And please, if you find these blogs helpful, please forward them to a friend!


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  • One of the ways I know Jesus is talking to me and not Satan is that when Jesus speaks truth, there is no shame. Whereas when Satan reveals some “truth” to me, it is accompanied by unbearable shame. Thanks for putting this in context, Josh.

  • Truth destroys the chains of bondage.
    Truth destroys the weight of shame and guilt.
    Truth destroys the enemy’s ability to accuse.

    • Absolutely, Jose, when delivered and received in the context of God’s loving heart for us, ultimately expressed through the cross. Otherwise, truth can be just a “noisy gong or clanging cymbal.”

  • I like “Christ uses truth like a sword to separate where a person ends and sin begins,” by surrounding truth with mercy. The first wave to hit us is mercy. The second is direct and sharp truth within mercy. Just a thought, Josh.

  • Josh, Thanks for the insightful and winsomely helpful comments that you continue to send out. You have beautifully captured the sense of James 2:13b – “…mercy triumphs over judgment.” George

  • Does mercy give context to truth?

    Truth can be merciful, if someone is living in untruth and truth is revealed to them, the mercilessness of the untruth will be destroyed and the mercy that truth brings can now be lived.
    Simon lived in the mercilessness of judgmentalism (as apposed to spewing truth), Jesus showed mercy through love. Simon did not share truth, just facts; Jesus shared truth.
    If mercy had to give context to truth then it’s not truth. That is the good thing about truth… it is completely self authenticating.
    God isn’t always merciful but always truthful.
    Just some thoughts!

  • Josh, this is so true! I’ve been on the receiving end of truth without mercy and it hurts! Thank you for your blogs. I enjoy them! Could you put a link on you web site so that we can share it on FB?

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