Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5 (CSB)

Our commitment to graciousness is sometimes inversely related to the importance of the situation. It is easier to be gracious when the stakes are low. That is when the issue does not matter significantly to us. However, when something that is dear to our hearts is under attack, graciousness might be the last thing that comes to mind.

In some parts of society, graciousness is considered a weakness. Synonyms for graciousness include gentleness, meekness, kindness, or reasonableness. It also encapsulates the concept of not insisting on having our way or rights. While the world may view a gracious person as weak or a doormat, demonstrating graciousness takes a great deal of strength.

Our Model of Graciousness

Jesus is the perfect model of graciousness. Whether it was the beginning of his ministry in Nazareth: All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. Luke 4:22 (NIV).

Or when he stood before Pilate: “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. Matthew 27:13–14 (NIV)

When we are under attack, it seems only natural, perhaps even instinctual, to defend ourselves, but Jesus offers a different example. Oswald Chambers remarks:

The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him.[1]

What does it say about us when we look to the anger that Jesus exhibited when he drove the merchants from the temple as our model for response rather than when he stood before Pilate, declining to defend himself? Oswald Chambers also said, “Our weakness lies in always wanting to vindicate ourselves.”

Graciousness on Display

Jesus tells us to do some things in secret. Prayer and giving come to mind. Conversely, our text in Philippians reminds us to make our “graciousness be known to everyone.” It is not about flaunting our graciousness, but rather it is what makes our message attractive. There is life in graciousness. Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24 (NIV).

It is certainly easy to find disagreement in our world. Many crazy things and ideas are forced into the mainstream of society today. There is injustice, corruption, and idiocy everywhere we look. Frustration is understandable. Why bother with graciousness or even civility? The world does not deserve it, and yet it’s needed. Paul instructed Titus:

Remind people to respect their governmental leaders on every level as law-abiding citizens and to be ready to fulfill their civic duty. And remind them to never tear down anyone with their words or quarrel, but instead be considerate, humble, and courteous to everyone. Titus 3:1–2 (TPT)

Eugene Peterson translated verse two this way: No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous. Titus 3:2 (The Message).

What good will it do? Will not our graciousness simply be trampled on and even mocked? There will indeed be those who see our graciousness as an opportunity to take advantage of us. But there will be others witnessing our graciousness who will view it as a validation of our gospel message.

The Power of Graciousness

As we consider graciousness, we must ask what objective do we have? If our strongest desire is that we are proven to be correct, then there is little room for graciousness. If we win an argument, debate, or even if a Supreme Court decision is handed down in our favor, what do we want to happen?

The graciousness of God has a purpose: For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. Titus 2:11 (NIV). It is God’s graciousness that makes salvation possible, but it is our graciousness that can make salvation attractive.

With all due respect to those skilled in apologetics, very few people are ever persuaded to serve Christ through an argument. A gracious child of God, on the other hand, can be used to influence and soften hearts. Graciousness may seem like a weakness, but it contains a power that can change the direction of a life.

Graciousness is not about winning an argument but about fulfilling God’s purposes in the world. Paul admonished: Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. Colossians 4:5–6 (NLT).

A Surprise Ending

Conventional thinking may conclude that “Might makes right,” meaning that the powerful can do whatever they want to without being challenged. However, Jesus made a statement that belies that notion. We understand that graciousness is related to humility and meekness. In fact, we cannot conceive of genuine graciousness without humility and meekness. It’s just not natural.

Much of what Jesus said in the Beatitudes will fail to resonate with most people. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” is not an exception. It demonstrates the power of meekness, humbleness, and graciousness.

In the end, graciousness is about accomplishing God’s purpose here on earth. God was gracious to us in offering such a great salvation. And graciousness on our part will do more than any persuasive argument we can conceive. Graciousness is not likely to be a natural trait, but we look to Jesus as our example. In the end, those who exhibit graciousness will win the day.

Steve Ekeroth

 

Photo by Liza Summer:

 

[1] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: An Updated Edition in Today’s Language, ed. James Reimann (WORDsearch, 1992), 179.

2 Comments

  1. Rev Jan Michael Nace on July 1, 2022 at 10:06 am

    I like (and use) the CSB often. Good reminder Steve. And good timing! For me graciousness is standing down and letting the Lord stand in front of me when I walk through life. It’s all about Him anyway. Have a good weekend Steve and stay safe!

  2. Stan on July 1, 2022 at 10:26 am

    https://booksbyvision.org/product/christian-living/

    Dr Chant wrote a wonderful book on gracious living. Good article friend.

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