I admit I am still new to living graciously intentionally. It came on the heels of the Lord’s whisper some weeks ago when, as usual, I had to process my emotions and thoughts to figure out how to react to a hurtful comment or abrasive attitude. Sometimes, our default might be to feel resentful or to contend. Or keep silent and try to search for a Christian reaction or a Biblical one. As we simmer in silent anger or hurt, as the case maybe, we are also aware that the Lord knows the state of our hearts and minds. And although we may try to convince ourselves to choose the way of patience and forbearance, such frequent vexations could pile up and grow into something that could harden our hearts.
One day not too long ago, I found myself in such a situation. I was thinking, “It can’t always be like this, me, curbing my temper just to maintain peace.” I thought that there shouldn’t be an internal struggle every time, that the mere act of forbearing should not also trigger feelings of resentment or disappointment. The act of forgiveness that we want to happen in our hearts should truly bring peace in there.
Then it came. Written across the space where I was trying to weigh in whether to fully forgive or harbor hurt or entertain a little of both were the words: Live graciously. Then the soft whisper: You have learned to live in My grace, now, learn to live graciously.
That’s it! That’s the answer to our dillydallying hearts, when, even in our act of forgiving, we still want to harbor hurts or resentment. Live graciously intentionally. To choose grace every single time. And when we remember grace, and know that we’re doing grace because the Lord Jesus did if first, it all becomes easy. Graciousness doesn’t carry with it a single molecule of unforgiveness or ill will. That is the Lord Jesus’ graciousness and it never gets tarnished.
So, with the whisper, “Live graciously,” my heart exhaled all the impure air and settled in grace. Grace received, grace given away. The practice of giving grace away abundantly just as we continually receive it much the same way settles the disquiet in our hearts. It is a form of worship. When we let that sink in our minds, we know that we are doing a most excellent thing and won’t be resentful about it.
We cannot give away what we have not received ourselves. But we do receive it every single day, in measures beyond what we truly deserve.
I have somewhat a pretty, good idea what gracious means. And before this writing, I had collected them in my mind as my heart understood it. But I’d like to share the list of synonyms I had gathered from my online search.
Gracious is merciful, compassionate, kind, forgiving, clement, forbearing, tenderhearted, sympathetic, benevolent, generous.
Wow. Don’t you want to be all of those and more? I know I do.
So, we push away all traces of selfishness and choose to be gracious. It’s a beautiful thing.
It’s grace that changes us. Grace flows from the cross of Christ. The same flows from our surrendered lives, arms wide open in surrender to receive. And to give away. It is only in this posture does grace flow.
Grace is another facet of love. In most cases, it is the gateway to love. And vice versa. For it is for love that grace flowed in Calvary without measure.
…But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. (Rom. 5:20)
Living graciously, though at times it’s hard to do, is living beautifully. It’s the only good and beautiful way to live. For we cannot love without giving grace.
Living graciously is to not harbor ill feelings or speak ill of our neighbor even if they do towards us. And who is our neighbor? The other person. Our natural tendency is to contend when hurt or when we want to be proven right. But the Bible says to maintain lowliness of mind (humility):
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Phil. 2:3)
Meek and lowly. That is Christlikeness.
When we choose to act on our emotions (oftentimes pride) instead of listening to the Holy Spirit, we walk after the flesh and not after the Spirit. But we are in Christ Jesus.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom. 8:1)
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