GRACE AND THE GOLDEN RULE
What comes to your mind when the word “grace” is mentioned? I’m pretty sure your mind goes to the grace of God, (what many call His unmerited favour). But how about grace in human interactions? Yes, it’s a show of favour or goodwill in part, but I have something more specific in mind.
I found these definitions of grace, among others, in my Word Web Dictionary and they are going to be the focus of my discussion here:
“A sense of propriety and consideration of others
A disposition to kindness and compassion”
These definitions I believe spell out grace in clear terms to help us inculcate that virtue. How do we treat other people? Do we treat them with courtesy and decorum? Is there anything less than fitting in the way we talk or react to them? Do we consider their welfare in what we do?
I would have added sensibilities but that has gone haywire in the world today with the political correctness and hatred of God that abound. People get so easily offended that no matter how careful you try to be, some people are bound to claim they are distressed by what you say and do. No Christian who wants to please everyone in this respect will be able to share the gospel or point out modern-day practices that violate the word of God. But we are still expected to preach and correct in love, knowing we are all fallible and in need of God’s mercy always.We should preach and correct in love, knowing we are all fallible and in need of God's mercy too. Click To Tweet
We should, as the definitions above indicate, show consideration to others if we want to be gracious. This is how the Bible puts it with respect to our speech:
“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” – Colossians 4:6 (KJV)
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)
Another translation puts the last verse this way:
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – (NIV)
This reminds me of the three-fold purpose of prophecy as shown in 1 Corinthians 14:3:
“… the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.” – 1 Corinthians 14:3 (ESV)
The word of God, and by extension our own words as children of God, are expected to strengthen people, encourage and comfort them. When we speak to people, irrespective of how much higher we are than them in age, status and learning, we shouldn’t disrespect or browbeat them. When we are teaching people, we should not sound condescending or brash. Even when we feel someone is clearly in the wrong, we should not sound dismissive or arrogant.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1 (KJV)
Sometimes, correction administered in private bears more fruit than when the receiver is rebuked in public to shame him or her.Abrasive behaviour or meanness shows a lack of grace. #quote Click To Tweet
We should not be overly disagreeable or cantankerous. Don’t ridicule people or use whatever they say or do as a ground for starting an argument and then insist on having the last word. We see this often online when people bully others in a discussion thread, instead of stating their views and acknowledging the differences in experience that may form the bases of other people’s opinions. This and other types of abrasive behaviour show a lack of grace.
So in the end, kindness and compassion encompass both the giving of material gifts and how we treat people generally. And a famous principle to live by if we want to be gracious all-round is the Golden Rule:A famous principle to live by if we want to be gracious all-round is the Golden Rule. #quote Click To Tweet
“… in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12 (NIV)
When this becomes our custom, we know we are growing into maturity in Christ and our lives will become models for others to emulate.
Pour upon me the Spirit of grace, dear Lord, in Jesus’ name.
The follow-up to this article is “A Testimony of Grace.” It illustrates the article you’ve just read by sharing my experiences of grace in a particular place.
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