After explaining to his son Jacob the importance of the law, Lehi testified that redemption would come through the Messiah, “for he is full of grace and truth” (2 Nephi 2:6). What is it about those twin attributes—grace and truth—which qualified Him to be our Savior?
- Grace is a gift freely given because of love and compassion for the recipient.
- Truth is an accurate perception of reality.
Lehi was not the only one to testify that Jesus possessed these attributes in their fullness. John also testified that the Savior was “full of grace and truth.” He testified that we have received “of his fulness…. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:14-17, See also D&C 93:11). Adam, Enoch, and Moses were all taught the same principle many years before the Savior’s birth (Moses 1:6, 32, Moses 5:7, Moses 6:52, Moses 7:11). And the Savior taught that the Father was also full of grace and truth (D&C 66:12).
I must admit that I have often thought there was a tension between these attributes: mercy leads one to “water down” the truth, while strict adherence to truth might lead to heartlessness:
A permissive parent or leader would fall more to the left on this spectrum, while a heavy-handed leader would fall on the right. The goal, in my mind, was to find a happy medium between strictness and kindness.
But after pondering this passage today, I have a different shape in my mind:
We all possess both attributes in varying degrees. We all feel compassion toward others and sometimes act on those feelings. We all have a sense of right and wrong and a desire to act with honesty and integrity. But our Savior, Jesus Christ, possessed both attributes in their fullness. These attributes are not in conflict with one another. We can possess them both.
President Henry B. Eyring gave the following advice to seminary teachers:
I would try to help my students see the stern justice of God and his mercy as twin evidences of his love. I would teach them this: what he offers us in every covenant with him is the opportunity to learn to love as he loves, so that we may become, through the Atonement, like him and thus able to inherit eternal life. I would try to help them feel the Savior as unchangeable, the same God who speaks to them through the Old and New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and through his living prophets. He is not exacting one place and forgiving another. He is always both because he loves us and knows what we must have to receive the gift he offers us (“Covenants and Sacrifice,” Old Testament Symposium, Brigham Young University, 15 August 1995).
Today, I will strive to emulate and develop the Savior’s twin attributes of grace and truth. I will remember that kindness, mercy, and compassion are not antithetical with honesty, integrity, and faithfulness. I will remember that God possesses both attributes in their perfection: He loves us with a perfect love, and He wants to help us achieve true growth and genuine success.