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!