John Robert Dicksee
Gracious: characterized by kindness, thoughtfulness, and warm courtesy.
Tea-time-relationships: serving someone thoughtfulness, time and kindness has opened many hearts in my life-time.
"Graciousness is that quality in a person's behavior towards others that shows them their worth, their value in God's eyes and honors them based on God's image and imprint on their lives. "
WAY # 20: We choose to be gracious, even when we do not feel like it!
"Let love of the brethren continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some haveentertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:1-2
Deep throated shouting, the shrill screams of a woman, dust flying, crowds running to see the spectacle, left the terrified woman fearing for her life. The Pharisees were bringing a woman caught in adultery and were attempting to test Jesus to see just how liberal He was--to see if He would defy the law and extend his hand of grace to a woman waiting to be killed by the stoning the law required.
Perhaps this woman was poor and had stooped to make money the wrong way. Perhaps she was abused, or deeply wounded and lonely. Or even just selfish and caught in lust. But, in the crowd of men, screaming, jeering people, she must have felt terror, shame, fear and grief all at once.
Jesus, the God who had formed her, looked into her eyes, saw her heart, knew all of her days and acts, and knew her deep need for forgiveness. I imagine Him giving His hand to her to pull her off the ground, helping her brush the dust off of her garment. And then, he extended a gentle but authoritative voice of graciousness.
"Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either." John 8: 10
Jesus, the perfect one, who "while we were yet sinners, died for us." Jesus, who, "although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God to be grasped." Jesus, "while being reviled, did not revile in return, but kept trusting Himself to God."
When Jesus looks into the eyes of my heart, He invites me in--to know His love, His wisdom, His truth, His admonition, His correction. Always, He is gentle and meek, as that is His way. Being in His presence does not call me to want to sin more, quite the opposite. His example of dignifying me and all of us of His children by seeking us out, redeeming us, being gentle and long-suffering with us, causes me to want to be more righteous, more sacrificial, more generous, more of a servant. His life transforms me. But His life is one of gracious behavior.
How many people are in our lives who have felt the sting of condemnation, criticism, abuse and we might be the only ones who show them the gentle, gracious, humble love of God.
When we teach our children to be gracious, we are teaching them:
Not to judge but to see themselves as those who extend the supernatural forgiveness of God
Accepting the awkward parts of your loved ones personality or immaturity by giving gestures of love
Teaching them not to think about themselves but others
Training them to have self-control over their emotions--to choose to be gracious as a part of the values that inform their behavior
Showing them how to face the world as Jesus did--not as a legalistic Pharisee, but as the servant King
When someone is king or thoughtful or honoring of me, it ministers to me greatly. In a world of cynicism, easy judgement on facebook, (I cringe every time someone easily criticizes me--especially when many of my critics have never even met me.), and a world of back-biting and gossip, the graciousness of God which honors a person because God has honored them, is transforming and will draw others to Christ.
And so, we treat our children with respect, serve them in humility, choose to use honorable words to our husbands, to friends, because when they learn this attribute of God, they will become those who win the souls of others who are so longing for someone to validate their worth.
This is something we practice, we grow in. If you are like me, you blow it and lose your patience. But God Himself, humble, bowing His knee in the dirty ground, asks us to do as He did. The more I practice and ponder this attribute of His behavior, the more amazed I am that He would ever forgive me--but in knowing His gentle, dignified and generous honoring of His very own children, I have come to love Him more and appreciate my salvation more deeply because I understand each day how much I do not deserve it.
May God give each of us the strength today to behave in a gracious way, so that the world may see what Jesus is like through us every day.