This week Norma Jean and I are in Gilchrist County, Florida. We’ve been here so many times in meetings with various congregations. And it’s where she grew up.
This time we are working with the Midway church of Christ. I’ve been told that it was identified as such because it’s located midway between Trenton and Bell. As I reflect on yesterday’s worship services and our interaction with the brethren the word “gracious” comes to mind.
The brethren have been very gracious in their reception of us. Beginning with the hospitality extended in the home of Rod and Veronica Hastings. They have supplied our every need and made us feel comfortable and at home with them.
Midway’s preacher, Danny Allen and his lovely wife, Marti, are so gracious in every way. Danny is a fireball, full of enthusiasm and passionate about his love for the Lord, the preaching of the gospel and his ministry. He has been so gracious in commending our work. In fact, he has also almost been embarrassingly effusive in his praise. But I know it is sincere. Genuine. And heartfelt. He is in a word, gracious. And Marti in her sweet, caring and gentle spirit is equally as gracious.
We are blessed to be the recipients of such a gracious response both in word and in deed. I’m reminded of the Preacher’s observation in Ecclesiastes who said, “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious, But the lips of a fool shall swallow him up” (Eccl. 10:12).
Gracious speech ought to always characterize the people of God. Paul admonished in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
The word translated “gracious,” according to Dr. Thayer, means “that which affords joy, pleasure, sweetness, delight, charm, loveliness.” It involves goodwill. Loving kindness. And favor. “It has to do with the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in (our lives).” To be gracious is to be like God.
“Gracious” is a word often used to describe the nature, personality, and attitude toward Israel in the Old Treatment. “The Lord is gracious” proclaimed David in Psalm 145:8). Connected with His graciousness are compassion and mercy. When we are gracious our hearts are tender and we are patient and “slow to anger.”
Like the Lord, in the Psalm when we are gracious our hearts are tender. We are patient. “Slow to anger.” We care about those who are struggling and need our help and encouragement.
Special occasions like during a gospel meeting, when we are hosting friends, or enjoying the company of loved ones we have not seen in a long time tend to bring out the best in us. We are gracious.
However, a gracious spirit ought to be the character and quality of our lives on a daily basis. To be gracious is to be attentiveness to the needs of others. Thoughtful. Kind. Courteous. Generous. Affable. And accommodating. These are all traits of a gracious person.
We could use more graciousness in our homes between husbands and wives and parents and children. Sometimes the stress and struggles of life squeeze out the gracious spirit that is much needed to soothe our souls.
On a regular basis in our weekly interactions, let us be gracious toward the weak brother. The hurting. And those who at times feel helpless and hopeless. It’s easy to be judgmental. But it’s better to be gracious.
No doubt we have daily opportunities to be gracious as we compliment a friend, share a kind word with a neighbor, smile at a stranger, offer help to a child, or remember a birthday or anniversary with a card.
The wise man was right. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body”(Prov 16:24).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman