The Freedom To Be Gracious
August 5, 2010

Growing up in what one might call the “Christian Community”, I have seen an interesting dynamic in the attitudes and actions over the years. This includes my own attitudes which in turn have affected my behavior. This week during one of my “daily soaks in the Word”, I was moved by one word in one verse so much that I have already seen a change I was hoping for in my own heart.
Philippians 4:5 “Let your gentleness be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” As my eye caught that asterisk on gentleness, I found the word graciousness below the verse. I thought about how it was speaking to me that as I interact with people, what they need to know about me is that I’m gracious or gentle.
Throughout my years in different churches and fellowship circles, I have found an emphasis on confrontation and correction. If someone offends us it has become our duty to face the person (or at the very least tell those around us) that we have been offended. We have taken on the secular push to confront those we disagree with, to point out what we see going wrong. Our focus is often on what others need to do to walk upright so that we are not insulted. I have heard grace preached over and over yet in my own experience and my own actions, it fell to the wayside as it became more important to make sure people “do what is right”.
That is why this verse sunk in at the perfect time. In my effort to right the wrongs of those who I find confrontational, I have been lacking this act in my own life. I find myself offended at those who are not gracious. It has been easy in my own mind to confront those who are unforgiving.
Like most people, I really don’t like confrontation. It makes me tense and a bit queasy but hearing from all sides the incessant chants of how we must stand up for what is right we have bought into this culture of confrontation. Even when we don’t confront someone verbally, we often separate ourselves from them through avoidance. In other words, we easily shun those we think aren’t living the way we think they should.
The concept in the verse speaks freedom to me! It is not a license to ignore sin or destructive behavior. It gives me courage to extend grace to the ungracious. It affords opportunity to support a hurting person who needs healing. Gentleness allows me to live a life of graciousness. I’m so thankful that it doesn’t tell us to let our “righteousness” be evident because many of us would make that our “self-righteousness”!
Who will you choose to extend grace to today? Is it the co-worker who didn’t complete a job quite right? Is it someone who doesn’t treat you with kindness? How about the person who is homeless because of unhealthy choices made? Someone choosing a different path than you?


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