Character Trait: Graciousness
Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 12, 2010
Recent events in my life have left me pondering the character trait graciousness. At first I was thinking of it only as it refers to kindness, hospitality, and good manners. But as I researched it, I realized that graciousness is perhaps the most important character trait of all.
Graciousness encompasses all other character traits. Here is the definition of “gracious”, from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:
1. Favorable; kind; friendly; as, “the envoy meet with a gracious reception.”
2. Favorable; kind; benevolent; merciful; disposed to forgive offenses and impart unmerited blessings.
3. Favorable; expressing kindness and favor.
4. Proceeding from divine grace; as a person in a gracious state.
Here is a more modern definition, taken from Noah Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language:
1. Abounding in grace or mercy; manifesting love, or bestowing mercy; characterized by grace; beneficent; merciful; disposed to show kindness or favor; condescending; as, his most gracious majesty.
2. Abounding in beauty, loveliness, or amiability; graceful; excellent.
3. Produced by divine grace; influenced or controlled by the divine influence; as, gracious affections.
Synonyms: Virtuous. Good. Self-sacrificing. Kind. Friendly; with kind condescension (in other words, being kind even to those you think are “beneath” you and/or those who are younger or less knowledgeable than you.) Dignity. Charm. Class.
Antonyms: Immoral. Bad. Selfish. Rude. Harsh. Unkind. Unbecoming. Unmerciful. Unfriendly. Annoying.
We often associate graciousness with the old south and kind hospitality–or with older, Godly women who set good examples for us…
Titus 2: 3-5 (Amplified Bible): Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers…They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble, so that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited).
…But we should associate the word “gracious” with God. The root of the word gracious is grace. Praise God for his Grace, which is a part of the very nature of God. Without the undeserved grace God has given us, we would all be lost in our sins for eternity.
The very first time the scriptures describe the nature of God, the word “gracious” is used:
Exodus 34:6-7: The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…. (NIV)
This theme–in fact, these same words (“compassionate and gracious God”), are used over and over in the scriptures.
God is gracious, and we are to imitate Him. I think we could take it a step further and say that graciousness is part of holiness—and we are called to grow in holiness:
1 Peter 1:16 For it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
3 John 1:11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
The word “gracious” is epitomized in the Golden Rule and in the phrase, “What would Jesus do?” It’s all about treating others with kindness, consideration, and class. It’s about having good manners. It’s about love.
John 13:34 (NIV) A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
In the workplace, graciousness is the epitome of professionalism. In the home, graciousness is shown in sacrificial love. On the freeway, a gracious woman defers her rights for the sake of others.
Traditionally, graciousness has been a sign of a good upbringing. Conversely, a lack of graciousness will effect your reputation in a negative way.
How to be a Gracious Person
-Always help others feel comfortable—even if you are uncomfortable.
-Be friendly, even if you feel shy. Give a firm handshake, and look people in the eye when you are talking to them (when listening to them, too!)
-Use good manners.
-Be a servant to others.
-Gracious people take criticism graciously, even when the criticism is unjust. It’s normal to feel an immediate need to defend ourselves, especially if our reputation is at stake…but it is best to keep quiet and not let the heat of the moment overcome us.
-Don’t speak when you are angry. Avoid arguments and disagreements.
-Accept constructive criticism with poise.
-A gracious person would never set about to hurt another person purposely, nor seek revenge for wrongs done (whether real or perceived.)
-A gracious person, when wronged, will seek a peaceable resolution privately. A gracious person doesn’t gossip, grumble about others, or make private disagreements public.
-Graciousness, or a lack thereof, reveals your true heart and character.
Every day we are given chances to practice graciousness: When we are driving and someone cuts us off or forces their way into our lane; when our children are being silly and loud, ignoring our commands to stop; when we are sick, cranky or tired; when someone is sick and needs extra care; when our husband calls at the last minute to say he’s bringing the boss home for dinner (or to say he’s not going to be home for dinner—and you’ve taken the time to fix him his favorite!)
It isn’t easy to be gracious. It is a character trait that seems to have almost disappeared in the world today—even amongst Christians. All too often, we demand our “rights”. We want things to go our way. We are selfish. We even long for revenge when others hurt us. But I am more convinced than ever that I want to be a gracious person. I want to be a reflection of God’s Grace on earth. How about you?
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Next time: Teaching Graciousness to Children
© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.