A few years ago, four-star General Peter Chiarelli (the No. 2 general in the US Army at that time) was mistaken for a waiter by a senior presidential advisor at a formal Washington dinner. As the general stood behind her in his dress uniform, the senior advisor asked him to get her a beverage. She then realized her mistake, and the general graciously eased her embarrassment by cheerfully refilling her glass and even inviting her to join his family sometime for dinner.
The word gracious comes from the word grace, and it can mean an act of kindness or courtesy, like the general’s. But it has an even deeper meaning to followers of Christ. We are recipients of the incredible free and unmerited favor—grace—that God has provided through His Son, Jesus (Eph. 2:8).
Because we have received grace, we are to show it in the way we treat others—for example, in the way we speak to them: “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious” (Eccl. 10:12). Grace in our hearts pours out in our words and deeds (Col. 3:16-17).
Learning to extend the grace in our hearts toward others is a by-product of the life of a Spirit-filled follower of Christ Jesus—the greatest of grace-givers.
A week after C. S. Lewis died in 1963, colleagues and friends gathered in the chapel of Magdalen College, Oxford, England, to pay tribute to the man whose writings had fanned the flames of faith and imagination in children and scholars alike.
Wisdom is the beauty of holiness. James says wisdom is reasonable; flexible; forgiving; peaceful; caring; given to friendly visits, small acts of courtesy, and kind words. It is humble, transparent, simple, gentle, and gracious to the core (James 3:17).
A beautifying project on the main road of my town prompted the demolition of a church built in the 1930s. Although the windows of the empty church had been removed, the doors remained in place for several days, even as bulldozers began knocking down walls. Each set of doors around the church building held a message written in giant, fluorescent-orange block letters: KEEP OUT!
My car broke down in a tunnel during rush hour in downtown Boston. Angry drivers expressed their frustration as they struggled past me. Eventually, the car was towed to a station for repairs. Later it broke down again, stranding me along the Interstate at 2 a.m. Back to the shop it went.
On a recent trip, the flight attendant asked if I flew very often. When I said I did, he asked, “Have you noticed people on planes becoming increasingly more belligerent and aggressive in recent months?” I had to confess that I agreed with him. We began talking about what might be contributing to it—things like increased airport security, higher costs, fewer services, and a general dissatisfaction with travel. As if to prove the point, our conversation was interrupted by a passenger who refused to sit in his assigned seat because he liked someone else’s seat assignment better!
Where you live has a way of making certain demands on how you live. In my neighborhood, the garbage collector comes on Tuesday mornings, so it’s my responsibility to get our garbage can out to the curb the night before. Letting the trash pile up on the curb for days before doesn’t make for happy neighbors. And we have lots of children playing outside, so signs are posted everywhere reminding drivers to slow down. That means I drive slowly and watch for little ones who, without looking, chase wayward balls into the street.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by rules and expectations? Think of how the Jewish people must have felt as they tried to keep up with more than 600 rules from the Old Testament and many more that had been imposed on them by the religious leaders of their day. And imagine their surprise when Jesus simplified the pursuit of righteousness by narrowing the list down to just two—“love the Lord your God” (Matt. 22:37) and “love your neighbor as yourself” (v.39).