“They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:7-9)
To be “gracious” is to be the kind of person who gives other people things they do not deserve. A gracious person shows people unmerited favor (kindness that they could never earn on their own). The LORD is the ultimate Example of Someone Who is gracious, Who gives graciously, time and time and time again. Whenever we act with graciousness toward other people, we are not inventing some new thing. We are simply reflecting the character of the eternal God. He has always been gracious, and He always will be gracious.
Have you ever noticed that it is easier to expect people to be gracious to you than it is for you to be gracious to other people? For example, let’s imagine that you are going over to your neighbor Tommy’s house, and Tommy’s mom is offering cookies to you. They are fresh-baked, warm-from-the-oven, gooey chocolate chip cookies. Of course, you accept her offer, even though you do not necessarily deserve a warm and wonderful cookie. In fact, as you chew it up, you realize that you could never earn a cookie that tastes like that! Tommy’s mom sees that you love the cookies, and she graciously packs a bag full of them and sends them home with you. WOW! (You can tell from the look on Tommy’s face, though, that he is not too pleased to see so few cookies left over for him!)
Now, imagine that Tommy comes over to play at your house. It just so happens that today your mom has just finished baking some warm and wonderful, gooey chocolate chip cookies, and you are thrilled! You and Tommy are both practically jumping up and down with hope and delight. Suddenly, you stop, you glance over at Tommy, and you realize that he is hoping your mom will be gracious and offer him some cookies. Some of your family’s cookies! Why, some guys have all the nerve! And what does your mom do? You watch her, as if in slow motion – reaching for a handful of cookies, placing them in Tommy’s greedy little hands, patting the top of his head. You find yourself wanting to scream NO!
That little story is kind of exaggerated. But you get the point: It can be harder for us to be gracious than it is for us to accept graciousness. We want (we expect!) everyone to be understanding with us when we make mistakes, but we are not as quick to be understanding when others make mistakes. We think of nice things that people could do for us, but we do not naturally spend time thinking of nice things we might be able to do for others. We are human, and we are prone to sin. We will never be able to be perfectly gracious in this life. Is it worth trying?
Yes! After all, the LORD is perfectly gracious. He has shown grace to you, time and time and time again. Remembering how much you receive, and remembering how little you deserve, can be a great help in remembering to be gracious to people. Has the LORD shown you kindness that you never could have earned? Does His graciousness make you want to be gracious with other people? If so, then be gracious. You will be reflecting, at least in a small way, the great graciousness of the eternal God. And, because He is gracious, He will help you be gracious!
God shows you grace, and you can reflect that by being gracious with others.
» What kind of “unmerited favor” has God shown me in my life?
» Am I gracious with other people?
» How can I reflect to others some of the graciousness God has shown to me?