Graciousness: A Matter of the Heart and of the Head
Akuse, Ghana — These are good days in Ghana. Our national team, led by Dr. Samuel “Sammy” Lartey, display and exemplify the character traits of genuine men of God. They are servants who desire nothing more than have the opportunity to share the Gospel with others. Their gracious spirits are infectious and certainly are used by God to open doors for the work that we are doing.
GRACIOUS is a word that is rarely used these days. I am convinced that graciousness is a quality that needs to be more evident in our lives each day.
Gracious is formally defined as [being] “marked by kindness and courteousness.” It is often easy for us to lack this character trait and excuse it in light of our circumstances, but what must we do?
Graciousness is a matter of the heart and of the head.
Of primary importance is for us to understand that graciousness is in fact a work of the Spirit of God working within you. In other words, it is a matter of the heart.
16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. — Galatians 5:16-25
Notice the stark difference between the acts of the sinful nature and the fruit of the Spirit. “Fits of rage …selfish ambition, dissensions, and factions.” These characteristics are completely possible and totally expected from a person who does not know Jesus Christ. It is natural. These types of reactions will nearly always surface when a person (without Christ) is confronted with circumstances that try and tempt them.
On the other hand, the evidence of the Spirit of God living within us produces “the fruit of the Spirit [including] patience, goodness, gentleness and self-control.” These are not natural reactions but rather, they are supernatural responses.
Now here’s the question. Which of these lists describe your life today? When faced with challenges and obstacles do you react or respond? Remember, reactions, while natural, are selfish and circumstantial. When we react we are simply doing what any person without Christ does. Are you simply a person of circumstances? Are you simply a selfish person?
Responses are spiritual choices. So being gracious is not only a matter of the heart, but it is a matter of the head. We can choose to default to the flesh or surrender to the spirit. We react from our flesh … we respond from our spirit. You have a choice, EVERY TIME, to allow the Spirit of Christ to respond through you. I hope today you will join me in asking God to develop a gracious spirit within us so that God might be gloried in all that we do.