Here are four common traits I have observed in gracious people that we should be working on if we are going to excel at being gracious towards one another.
- Gracious people place a high value on being gracious because they know how much they need grace themselves. They are mindful of Jesus’ words, Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:1-2). When you know how desperate your own situation is because of your sin you can’t help but be gracious! You know that you are as guilty as the person you would be judging. This leads right to the second trait of gracious people,
- Gracious people know there is a God, and they know it is not them. God is the only Just Judge. The gracious person is not out to show how bad or foolish someone is. James 4:12 says, There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? God is a just God. Let Him worry about the faults in His servants. When you think like this your anger will be short-lived and the devil will not be able to take advantage of you and twist your righteous anger into something else. Don’t point out every wrong thing, every failure, and every sin of your neighbor. Let God be Judge. That’s His job, and He’s quite good at it!
- Gracious people are quick to encourage and lift others up, and are slow to critique others. Proverbs 11:12 (ESV) says, Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. More often than not, when you focus on finding fault and criticizing a person for this or that you end up making things worse. Defenses come up. They start to justify their actions. Listen, just because a person has a legitimate fault, it does not mean the godly thing to do is to bring it out into the open. I hear people say, “Brother, I need to tell you something in Christian love.” But what comes next is often neither Christian, nor loving. You are supposed to talk to your brother or sister not only in love, but in kindness and compassion. When a fellow Christian brother or sister falls, and everyone does, God wants our first response to be to help that person back up onto their feet, to remind them of God’s love for them and His grace for them, and get them back into running the race.
- Gracious people are forgiving people. Forgive each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. When I officiate at a wedding, I always mention the importance of forgiveness because forgiveness is essential to the success of a long term marriage relationship. I always say that not matter how much my wife might hurt me, but I won’t leave her. Because she can’t hurt me as much as I hurt my God every single day. And if He hasn’t given up on me, what right do I have to give up on her?
Are we as gracious towards others as Jesus is with us? The closer we get to that the further along the road to personal holiness we will be.