Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love by John Crotts is like a cool wind on a scorching hot day. Social media’s effects on truth reach far beyond the fake news and opinions of misguided, self-assured Average Joe. To combat the rampant falsehood and arrogance of social media know-it-alls, plenty of people wear a badge of honor as they drop the truth like the nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Rather than being gentle like a surgeon doing open heart surgery, they resemble a demolition team seeking to destroy a house all the way to its foundation, so they can rebuild from the ground up. Crotts shows us that this is an age-old issue and that scripture has a lot to teach on the vital need to speak the truth in love.
The first half of the book is devoted to showing the importance of graciousness in our lives as well biblical examples of graciousness. Crotts, quoting F.F. Bruce, reminds us that “the confession of Christian truth can be cold and unattractive if unaccompanied by the spirit of Christian love.” (p.19). To prove this, he gives a coffee shop conversation with three guys—two of the guys disagree with the others. He shows how the reception of God’s truth can be impacted through the way people speak that truth. Crotts shows how both Jesus and Paul were devoted to proclaiming the truth while preaching it with graciousness.
The second half of the book deals with graciousness in the church and how it should be cultivated. I found it very wise to place the importance of graciousness and its roots in the scripture before giving a list of ways that graciousness ought to be cultivated. The unfolding of how to cultivate graciousness starts with the heart, moves to the mind, extends to action, and is ultimately lived out in community. The final chapter displays the beauty of how the gospel can bring graciousness to the heart as we look at the story of John Newton. Though short, the final chapter really packs a punch! Graciousness ends on such a powerful, practical, and encouraging note!
Reading Graciousness left me feeling convicted and yet encouraged. As I read this book, I was challenged to check myself and see whether graciousness was a part of my life. As I searched myself, I realized that I often speak without graciousness, though I think I’m a gracious person. I’ve realized that I’m often defensive, and instead of speaking about my feelings and my own struggles with the person, I use truth to try to win the battle. I found myself repenting of my lack of graciousness and seeking to cultivate it in everyday conversations. For me, a great book is one that draws readers and listeners to repentance in their everyday lives. Graciousness was that sort of book for me.
I highly recommend this book to any believer, whether they consider themselves gracious or not. Crotts’ small book is a great reminder for even the most gracious of saints. In these days, the importance of tempering the truth with love can’t be overstated. We could all use this teaching in an age where much of our interaction with others happens behind a screen.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.