"We should be rigorous in judging ourselves, and gracious in judging others." ~John Wesley
Lately, I've been thinking about the art of being gracious.
It feels a little old-fashiony and quaint, doesn't it? Graciousness doesn't seem like a trait that gets a whole lot of play in today's world.
But I'd love to see it make a comeback.
I think graciousness gets mistaken for weakness sometimes because it doesn't ever push itself on anyone. It gets overlooked because recipients of its gentle charm often don't even realize they've been "graced."
A gracious winner compliments the opponent who lost. One who is gracious in losing accepts defeat without making excuses or blaming.
A gracious host thinks of the comfort of her guests.
A gracious conversationalist is one who listens, asks questions, and does not need to have the last word.
I really miss it in public discourse these days.
I've heard it said that we judge others by their actions, while we judge ourselves by our intent.
I do think that's true. Even (or maybe especially) in marriage, it's easy for me to judge the actions of my spouse ("you didn't take out the trash") while excusing myself because of my intentions ("I didn't mean to forget your birthday").
I quickly judge others for things like political and religious views, without actually engaging in a dialogue or trying to see things from another perspective. It's all too easy to dismiss the other side as "wrong," rather than do the hard work of gracious consideration of another opinion.
Imagine how our relationships with our spouses, children, co-workers, neighbors and friends would be impacted positively with just a little more graciousness?
Imagine how our country could begin to heal some of the deep divides with graciousness toward those we disagree with?
Imagine how our children would respond if they saw adults modelling graciousness and common courtesy?
Here again, it's my default setting to think that it's "everyone else" who needs to be more gracious, while I myself am quite impeccable in my own demeanor. That time I lost my temper or had to have the last word? I certainly didn't mean to be abrasive. And I was only telling the truth, right?
Ouch. See what I mean?
Today, I resolve to be gracious toward others, and "rigorous in judging myself."
Then, perhaps Colossians 4:6 will be a reality: Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Good gracious! It starts with me.