Grace To Be Honest

Before true ministry can happen, we must be willing to be vulnerable.

For some reason, my wife and I apparently love to take on big life changes in bunches. Getting married? Let’s add a new job at the same time. Having a baby who doesn’t sleep for the first nine months? Let’s make sure that’s mixed in with another job change and buying a house. And definitely make sure the new oldish house has creaky floors, so we wake our rarely sleeping baby as often as possible. We do at least love a challenge.


It’s tempting to keep our struggles nuclear—all in the family—but then you end up having a 25-megaton blow-up about who loads the dishwasher right. My wife and I believe in community because we know we need it. In seasons of depletion, God’s grace has come to our marriage when we sought help from the hands and feet of Jesus, which is to say when we opened up to members of our church (1 Corinthians 12:1-31). This, of course, meant we had to swallow some pride.

What can we say of pride? It cometh before the fall, sure, but really it’ll do the whole job of self-destruction given the chance. Pride oozes a corrosive mix of arrogance and insecurity, eating away our gratitude. And when we stop thanking God and other people, we forget the joy and even necessity of asking. Instead, we continue thinking we’re our own all in all, the very habit that started our trouble in the first place. Self-sufficiency cascades in a hideous and—in a bit of tragicomedy—a self-feeding sequence.

Of course, we don’t feel it when things are going well. In fact, good times seem to vindicate our pride. All the while, though, we’re sealing ourselves off until one day we’re sleep-deprived and warring over dirty dishes—and nobody even knows.

Pride, on a broad scale, takes on the look of polite society where everyone admits only to doing “fine.”

Pride, on a broad scale, takes on the look of polite society where everyone admits only to doing “fine.” I submit to you that while such society may appear decorous on Sunday mornings, it’s actually a lonely mess. The epistle of James is good to remind us that God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). We all need grace day by day—sometimes twice a day—so how does one become humble?

It starts with honesty—that thing that cracks the self-made wall pride would build around us. Coming out of hiding humbles us so that we can receive care and be thankful. Over time, as seasons change, we find that we can give out the same kind of grace we’ve been given. On a broad scale, care flows in and out of each of us very much like the breath of the Spirit.

I’ll admit right away that opening up to someone about real heartache is no certain or predictable undertaking. You might be met with indifference or you could become gossip. You might even find their troubles are worse than your own, though this might not always be a bad thing. Caring for someone else has this way of soothing our own hurts, perhaps just by deflecting some of our self-focus. Vulnerability comes with a risk and therefore asks something of us to build a culture permeated by it. For starters, perseverance, forgiveness, and courage, which is to say love.

But, imagine a church filled with people who make space for deeper and more honest conversation. Imagine a church filled with people who honor vulnerability by faithfully keeping each other’s confidence. Though reaching this goal will be a work in progress, a church filled with people like that is the best we can pray for because it’s a place where the Spirit and the Word can flow freely. It can all start with a truthful answer when someone offers those three simple words, “How’re you doing?”


Illustration by Jeff Gregory

Related Topics:  Community

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1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.

2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led.

3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.

6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.

7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;

9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,

10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.

11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

15 If the foot says, Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.

16 And if the ear says, Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.

17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

19 If they were all one member, where would the body be?

20 But now there are many members, but one body.

21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you."

22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;

23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable,

24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked,

25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.

28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?

30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?

31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.

6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE."

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