Friday, July 18, 2003
Our daughter was five years old when she proudly announced that she was about to bake her first cake. Well, being a firstborn, she, of course, didn't need any help, right? So, Mom cooperated by staying in the living room, listening to these clattering pans and cabinet doors opening and closing. Pretty soon, we could smell baking aromas coming from the kitchen. Hey, maybe this first baking project was going to be successful after all. Well, finally, our daughter entered the living room, carrying her masterpiece - with her lower lip almost dragging the floor. The cake looked more like a pancake - it was just like plain old flat. Upon later analysis, we learned that, yes, she had put in the flour, the milk, the eggs - but she had left out one ingredient - the baking powder. So things didn't turn out the way she hoped they would.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Missing Ingredient."
One missing ingredient made all the difference. You know, that's not just true of baking a cake. According to the Bible, there are two ingredients needed for relationships to work as they're supposed to. And things come out flat many times because one of these two ingredients is missing. In fact, if you're like most people, you're pretty strong in one of these ingredients, but a little short in the other one.
The good news is that Jesus has plenty of both, and they're available to you if you belong to Jesus. The two ingredients that are fundamental to our having a relationship with Him, and to every Christ-honoring relationship, are revealed in John 1, beginning with verse 14, our word for today from the Word of God. Jesus here is called "the Word," the living expression of what's in God the Father's heart. "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father" - here are those two powerful ingredients - "full of grace and truth."
Grace and truth. There they are. John continues, "From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." Okay, two things Jesus brought from heaven to show us and give to us - grace (which is essentially undeserved love) and truth.
If you belong to Jesus, you should be full of both grace and truth, too. The problem is that we tend to be mostly full of one or the other, and people get hurt as a result. Some of us are all brick, bluntly hitting people hard with the truth that they need, but leaving them feeling judged and wounded rather than loved and cared for. Others of us tend to be all velvet, treating people gently and lovingly, but failing to tell them the truth they need to hear. To be like Jesus, you've got to have His velvet of grace on your brick of truth - and His brick of truth inside your velvet of grace.
I cannot leave you morally or spiritually unzipped without telling you the truth you have to hear. But neither can I leave you scarred and bleeding because I administered the truth, but I gave you no grace. I'm guessing that there's someone you know - maybe in your family, maybe it's someone in your church, it's someone you work with. It's someone who needs to hear the truth from you, presented with the love and tenderness and compassion of Jesus. And there's probably someone, as well, who needs some grace from you right now - you know, that undeserved love - someone you need to forgive, to seek out, to show mercy.
Maybe you're saying, "I don't have the courage to tell them the truth" or "I don't feel much like showing them grace after what they've done." That's okay. Neither one comes from you anyway. You have a Savior who is "full of grace" and "full of truth" - and He's waiting to give it to you.