In our current rancorous and escalating culture wars the greatest casualty seems to be truth. Jesus walked in unconditional love. John said that God is love and I think that those of us who know Him would agree. Even many who don’t know Him extol Jesus as an example of love. What I think we can miss if we are not careful is that Jesus also walked on the earth in uncompromising truth! The idea of truth is highlighted in the scriptures below.
10 Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. 11 Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven. 12 Yes, the LORD will give what is good; And our land will yield its increase. 13 Righteousness will go before Him, And shall make His footsteps our pathway. Psalm 85:10-13 (NKJV)
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:16-17 (NKJV)
In Psalm 85 above truth and righteousness are linked. Righteousness conveys the idea of right conduct but it is right conduct based on His standards not ours, for example the moral precepts in the Ten Commandments or the calls to godly living in the Sermon on the Mount. We see examples of this in Jesus earthly ministry. He called us to hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt. 5:6) and said our priority should be to seek above other things His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). When we do this we are embracing truth because we cannot separate truth from righteousness.
We can see more in the gospels because Jesus didn’t avoid difficult truths. In the reference from John grace and truth are linked. Jesus graciously offers forgiveness if we fail and sin but He provide no license to continue in it. In the well-known example of the woman caught in adultery we see Jesus grace and mercy when He does not condemn the woman but instead offers forgiveness. However consider His parting words to the woman “go and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11). Jesus called her sin what it was, sin.
Another example from John is the man who was healed at the Pool of Bethesda. Jesus healed the man and left but later sought him out and challenged him.
14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” John 5:14 (NKJV)
The truth is that sin has consequences and in a season when we are being told by our culture to not judge or challenge popular cultural we need to embrace our calling to follow Jesus and speak truth. As Jesus did and Paul exhorted (Eph. 4:15) we are to speak the truth in love, but we are called to speak. When we respond to the call of Jesus to demonstrate both love and truth then truth springs out of the earth and righteousness looks down from heaven.