By Deborah South
Proverbs 11:16a, “A gracious woman retaineth honour:”
Are you a gracious lady? (Defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “kind; friendly; merciful; disposed to forgive offenses and impart blessings; good; favored.”) Or do people exclaim in aggravation, disgust, anger, etc, “Gracious, lady!” I am sure we have all had those moments when we were not gracious. The new term in our society today is being a “Karen.” (I feel for those ladies who are named Karen, don’t you?)
The Bible tells us that “a gracious woman retaineth honour” in Proverbs 11:16a. A woman that is gracious is a lady who is honored and favored. People hold her in esteem, and she has a good reputation that follows her because of her life and testimony. Her life is defined by her graciousness.
Let us look at a few areas that might help us to become a more gracious lady and not one that people want to get away from while exclaiming under their breath, “Gracious, lady!”
How do we respond to criticism and hurts? It is natural for most of us to rise up and defend against hurts, injustices, mistreatment, and criticism, especially when it comes to our friends and family. Do we handle those situations and times with graciousness? Look back at the definition above. (“Kind; friendly; merciful; disposed to forgive offenses and impart blessings; good; favored.”)
I started thinking on this topic after my husband preached a sermon from Luke 4:14-30. Verse 22 caught my attention: “And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?” Without a doubt, Jesus was criticized often. Yet, the people wondered at His gracious words! Why did they wonder? Because His words were gracious! He could have been hateful and spiteful because He surely knew their heart, and they deserved it (in my fleshly opinion). Instead, He chose gracious words.
When we are not careful to be gracious in our words, we can cause our children and even ourselves to have a “victim” mentality.
A feeling that “everyone is out to get me” and “I am so mistreated.” I can not think of anyone more mistreated than Jesus, yet He was gracious. We have to learn to let things go and respond with grace and forgiveness.
Remember the graciousness that Jesus extended to us, and we are so undeserving, should be extended by us to others — in graciousness!
Another area that we should strive to be gracious in is our attitude.
Psalms 86:15, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”
Psalms 103:8, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.”
Psalms 145:8, “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.”
Joel 2:13b, “…turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness…”
Jonah 4:2b, “…I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness…”
I love how these verses point out over and over the relationship of graciousness, mercy, slow to anger, kindness, and truth! As a gracious lady, these are attitudes we should be constantly striving for in our effort to live as Christ would live. Although we fall short too many times, we should be keeping our eyes on Him so that we can follow the example He left for us.
He is our perfect Example.
How is your attitude of graciousness toward others? Are you known as a kind and merciful person — slow to anger? Can someone approach you about a concern or problem they have? Or is your attitude haughty, proud, and angry? Do people avoid you, maybe even saying, “Oh, gracious, here comes that lady!”? How sad that testimony would be for a child of God.
Have we looked for ways lately to be gracious to others? Have we looked out for the needs of others? A gracious lady is kind to those in her status of life, as well as those who may be struggling. How are you being gracious to those around you that need your help? Can you take the time to make a phone call to encourage someone? Or write a note? Maybe you could buy some groceries or give a gift to someone in need.
Ask the Lord to give you opportunities to be gracious!
The gracious lady will also be one with an attitude of gratitude. How often do you let people know that you appreciate them and are thankful for them? Every year, near Thanksgiving, our ladies will have a fellowship at church. While we are playing games and having a good time being together, we have a place in the room with bags that have the names of every lady that has come for the evening. We also have pens and notecards. We take just a few minutes to jot down something we are thankful for concerning that lady and put it in her bag. By the time the evening is over, everyone goes home with a bag full of encouragement and thankful words! This has been a great encouragement to our ladies over the years and some have even kept their notes to go back and look to remember the kind words they received from a gracious lady!
So which are you? Would someone describe you as a gracious lady? Or instead say, “Gracious, lady!”