Saturday, February 10, 2018

Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love (Book Review)

"Peacemakers are people who breathe grace to others in the midst of conflict. Since we cannot breathe out what we have not breathed in, this process hinges on our moment-to-moment relationship with God" (Ken Sande as quoted by John Crotts, pg. 68).

Zealous for truth. That's me. Expressing the truth with more zeal than love. Sadly, that is also me at times. This side of heaven, I imagine I will always be able to benefit from some practical methods for cultivating graciousness. That's why I was excited to read John Crotts' latest book, Graciousness: Tempering Truth with Love.

Crotts spends the first half of his book laying a biblical foundation by examining the Bible's commands for Christians to be gracious, setting forth the Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul as positive examples and the church at Ephesus as a cautionary tale of sorts. The second half of the book aims at highlighting practical ways to cultivate graciousness by considering our hearts, the value of others, and our actions, as well as specific suggestions for cultivating graciousness in community.

Graciousness is well written and offers wise counsel. For example, Crotts advises his readers not to merely read books about graciousness but to read biographies about those who exemplify it and adds this beautiful explanation:

"Theoretical kindness provides instruction, but lived kindness adds authenticity and tangibility to principles" (pg. 127).

To that end, Crotts makes excellent reading recommendations. The influence of outstanding works such as Ken Sande's Peacemaker, Paul Tripp's War of Words, David Powlison's Speaking the Truth in Love, and Donald Whitney's Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (among other titles) can be clearly seen within the pages of Graciousness.

All-in-all, if you are looking for a book that will remind you afresh of the truths of God's Word and the Gospel which will help you to infuse your conversations with graciousness, you will find this to be a worthwhile companion. It is a short, easy read in which Crotts handles Scripture faithfully and is a good, general primer on the subject. Crotts writes: "Raw conviction without gospel hope produces despair" (pg. 130). Readers are likely to find both within the pages of Graciousness.

*Many thanks to Cross Focused Reviews and Reformation Heritage Books for sending me a complimentary copy of Graciousness in exchange for my honest opinion!

Here are some additional excellent books that have helped me cultivate graciousness in specific areas:

  • General - Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree (This book does a really great job of practically demonstrating ways that we can affirm others when we are particularly tempted to be critical, especially when it comes to unbelievers with whom we have very little in common and even often find ourselves in disagreement. It has been a number of years since I have read this book, but I can still helpfully recall examples from this book. The illustration that I probably mentally re-visit most frequently is one in which he strikes up a positive conversation with a pro-choice protester while on a pro-life march. It's quite the conversation and wonderfully instructive! For more of my thoughts on this book, you can read my review.)
  • Marriage - When Sinners Say, "I Do" by Dave Harvey
  • Parenting - Everyday Talk by Jay Younts

No comments: