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The premise of Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love, the latest book by Pastor John Crotts, is Ephesians 4:15 which states, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”
Pastor John begins the book with an analogy that I found to be very convicting and simultaneously, very helpful. He asks readers to consider an area in which they might need help (he includes examples such as finances and golf). Readers are then asked to consider what it might be like if the expert in that area happened to approach them and offer to come to their home and extend help in that area. Naturally most people would jump at such an opportunity but Crotts adds to the scenario that the expert, while speaking truth that is necessary and helpful, has terrible breath to the point where it’s unbearable to even listen to what they are saying. This, he explains, is what it’s like for Christians to speak the truth without love.
He states that Christians, especially those who hold to reformed doctrine, tend to speak truth in this manner often. Those who identify as Calvinists are even known for going through the cage stage, a time in which they become so zealous for truth but lacking in love that they are akin to cage fighters. Crotts argues throughout the book that this type of speech is actually contrary to God’s design for how believers ought to speak to one another.
While zealousness for truth is important, it doesn’t accomplish much without love. Having gone through my own cage stage a few years ago, I could readily identify with the scenario Crotts described and I’m thankful for the hope he offers readers to grow in graciousness through Christ alone.
I really appreciate that Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love is full of Scripture and draws many examples from the Bible as to how Christians ought to speak. One of my favorite points that Pastor John makes is that gracious speech is a way to demonstrate trust in God as we hope for others to realize certain truths or even come to salvation. I’ve experienced instances as a Christian in which people were so worried about others needing to know the truth that they left love out of the equation. I was sad and discouraged by this and to see it mentioned in this book made me realize it probably happens more often amongst believers than we realize and it welcomes the opportunity to speak the truth in love as we remind others that God alone is the one who truly changes hearts.
Another point of the book that I enjoyed is the brief commentary Pastor John offers on Ephesians 4:29, “The Bible’s standard for speech is incredibly high. Every word that comes across a Christian’s lips must be infused with grace in order to build up the people who hear. There are no vacations or even coffee breaks permitted to unleash harsh, critical, unkind or harmful speech – a believer’s mouth must always be on duty, speaking good words in good ways at the right time,” (pg. 16).
This statement greatly encouraged my heart and made me want to shout a hearty, “Yes!” in agreement.
In addition to being encouraging, Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love is also very practical. A helpful aspect of this book, that Pastor Crotts includes examples of how we as Christians can approach certain conversations in such a manner that glorifies God and shows love toward those we are sharing truth with. He even takes up the difficult task of reminding believers that, “Theological controversies often breed quarrels,” (pg. 20) – a statement that deserves much emphasis in a day and age where it is all too easy to bash people with truth via social media, which, unfortunately, occurs often even amongst Christians.
I can only imagine that writing a book for Christians about how to balance speaking both truth and love must have been incredibly difficult but I’m thankful that Pastor John Crotts was willing to take on the task and do it well.
As Christians, the heart behind our speech ought to be peacemaking as we consider the peace Christ made with God on our behalf at the cross. Our hope and deepest desire ought to be for others to come to this knowledge or to grow deeper in it and one of the best ways we can further this Gospel goal is by speaking the truth in love.
My heart was greatly encouraged by Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love. This quick read is a necessary addition to every believer’s library and it receives my highest recommendation.
I received Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love compliments of Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest review.