“And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth…” Luke 4:22
And who was this gracious man? It was the Lord Jesus. His words were easy, good and kind. Psalm 45:2 says of Jesus that “grace is poured into thy lips”. Every word he spoke was measured in grace. No thoughtless remark ever escaped. Every word had purpose and content. Every word ministered grace to the hearers.
We are admonished to do the same. Eph 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” We are to measure our words by Christ’s example and by the need of the hearer.
So many times we fail. We allow words to pour from our lips that have not been checked by the Spirit of God. Or, our tone of voice casts doubt over the true intent of our words. James tells us that the tongue is a poisonous fire if left uncontrolled and seriously warns us about learning to control our speech. He concludes the chapter with a comparison of godly and ungodly wisdom.
“The words of a wise man’s mouth, Eccles. 10:12 says, “are gracious…” It take great wisdom to construct gracious words. It takes time to think before we speak and to anticipate or prepare our hearts for proper reactions in communication. Since the Bible tells us that our words proceed from what is truly in our hearts, we best be checking the root of the problem! The truly gracious words will proceed from a heart at peace with God.
What are our words like? Would people describe our words as easy, good and kind? Do we sound gracious?
“A gracious woman retaineth honour…” Proverbs 11:16
Again, the definition is easy, good and kind. It also holds the idea of having a good report or being fair-sounding. This is the description of the woman, but the next word, “retaineth”, is a description of her action. It literally means to hold onto strongly.
When you combine graciousness with strength you find a formidable combination. It makes me think of the definition of meekness – strength under control. Graciousness is not a simple quality. It takes self-control, discernment and strength to choose to speak and act graciously in the face of hardships and difficult people. Yet, I believe the verse also shows us a motivation. Honour. Being gracious has it’s own rewards, and one of those is a good reputation. To maintain a honourable reputation takes real strength and consistency. One fatal ungracious word or action and the reputation can be lost.
I have only met a few people in my life that I would describe as gracious and the amazing thing is that they made it look like it was easy and made me feel easy around them. They made me think that their goodness was without question and their kindness had no limits. It is very attractive and a quality that few possess. It is a goal to aspire unto! The very epitome of Christlikeness!
Would people describe you as a gracious person? Are you careful with your words? Do you faithfully protect your reputation?
“If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious…” I Peter 2:3
This chapter of Peter starts with a strong reference to the types of words and attitudes that should not be a part of the life of a Christian: malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking. He appeals to us to look into God’s Word so we can grow out of these things. The graciousness of the Lord in this verse is referring to our experience of his gracious gift of salvation in the face of our apparent sin. As the chapter proceeds he comes to verse twelve, “having your conversation honest among the Gentiles…” The change in our lives after we have received Christ should be shown in our words, lifestyle and action to those around us.
My Bible has a reference to Luke 6:35, “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”
Remember that the definition of “gracious” includes that word “kind”? God was kind/gracious to us when we needed it most, and he is also kind to the unthankful and to the evil. Yes, the wrath of God is upon them because they do not know him, but his action toward them is gracious and kind that he might lead them to repentance.
How are our actions toward the lost? If we are acting in the old man, speaking evil and living harshly, how can the graciousness of the Lord be seen by those who need him? If we have tasted that the Lord is gracious, surely we would want to share that with others.
“…for I am gracious.” Exodus 22:27
The “I AM” is gracious. Graciousness is an attribute of God. He is good. He is kind. He is open to us. Many times throughout Scripture this word gracious appears along side other attributes like gracious and full of compassion in Psalm 111:4, or gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous in Psalm 112:4, but one of my favourites is Isaiah 30:18, “And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you…”
This chapter of Isaiah recounts the rebellion of the children of Israel and then offers of help and forgiveness by the Lord, which they refused and ignored. But though they were obstinate and rebellious, the Lord said he would just wait graciously for them to return from their folly. Matter of fact, the Lord states in verse 19, “he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.” Very gracious. Yes. Though they have ignored his call and gone their own haughty and prideful way, when they finally realise where they are and call out to Him, he will hear and he will answer.
Graciousness waits. It doesn’t rush in to deliver. It doesn’t push its agenda on others. It is not oblivious to the danger, but it watches from a distance and waits for the opportune moment when real help is ready to be received.
Can you wait graciously for those moments? Or, do you charge into people’s lives? Can you recount times when God has graciously waiting on you?
“…And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son.” Genesis 43:29
The story of Joseph is a picture of the graciousness of God. We know the story, how his brothers due to their jealousy of him sold Joseph into slavery and how that God worked in the life of Joseph while estranged from his family. As the family come to seek food during the drought, Joseph works slowly to determine their hearts and to establish the health of his father and younger brother, Benjamin. He is waiting to be gracious, similarly to the verse we looked at in Isaiah. (Isaiah 30:18)
At the point of today’s verse, Benjamin has been brought to Joseph as a show of good faith. Joseph is overwhelmed by the sight of his brother and has had to leave the scene to weep.
Remember that the brothers do not yet know it is Joseph. They are concerned that this man will do harm to the younger brother and they know that it is their sin that has brought them to this place. In Genesis 42:21 they even say they are very guilty and that they deserve to be punished for what they had done to Joseph their brother. Though Joseph heard this confession, he waited. And, yes, even after they had brought Benjamin, he still waited. When the time was right, Joseph revealed himself and then poured out all manner of aid and assurance to the undeserving brothers.
This is an image of our Saviour. Though we have rejected and crucified him, at the opportune moment, when we are ready to receive him, he comes in with all willingness and ability to save our souls – to be gracious unto us.
Is he still waiting upon you? Is there something you need to confess to Him? He will be gracious unto you.