Ink blotches splatter my best jeans, like a Paul Jackson Pollock abstract painting. The ink is from a pen left in a shirt pocket, tossed with a load of laundry in a clothes dryer. From my perspective, it is an act of carelessness and my patience vanishes.
I regret not pushing the start knob on the dryer for just two pairs of jeans, one straight the other skinny leg, rather than waiting to combine a load. However, my decision saved 2,000 to 6,000 watts of electricity. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, electric power is the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses. I do believe Christians are to care for the earth God created, preserving its integrity and beauty. Also, electricity is costly and as a good steward of finances I need to keep the monthly bill within budget.
Yet now I struggle with a grudge, that feeling of resentment over a perceived harm. This isn’t the first time a pen has been washed because my husband didn’t remove it from his shirt pocket. Just as I know failure to conserve or steward well is not good Christian behavior, I know a lack of grace just isn’t a good response as well.
Therefore, I look for direction from scripture. Scriptures are like traffic lights, directing us to go [green], slow [yellow], or stop [red]. Does an attribute such as grace, a heart attitude, fit such a simple directional system?
According to Paul, graciousness is to be obvious to everyone (Phil. 4:5). The definition of graciousness, a word translated from the Greek adjective epieikes in this verse, is: “Not insisting on every right of letter of law or custom, yielding, gentle, kind, courteous, tolerant.1
If our graciousness is seen by everyone, each person we meet will notice it. It will flow from us like traffic on a city street through a green light. Yet, I slammed the breaks on gracious when I saw the ink blotches on the laundry.
How do we practice graciousness regularly regardless of the circumstances? The answer is, “we don’t.” Instead, we live a life of gratitude for the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us on the cross. Although we don’t deserve such unmerited favor, while we were still sinners Christ died for us, paying the penalty we deserved for our sins (Romans 5:8).
The unmerited favor, grace, we offer others is triggered by a deep understanding of what Christ did for us. Our grateful heart prompts graciousness. This insight is not mine but J.C. Sproul’s. He wrote: “The Christian motivation for ethics is not merely to obey some abstract law or a list of rules; rather, our response is provoked by gratitude. Jesus understood that when He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” 2
Perhaps the ink on my jeans might work for my good. May the blotches remind me of Christ’s unmerited favor and fill my heart with such gratitude I am gracious to all.
©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved
Photo from Pixaby.
1-Why would being grateful for Christ’s redemption prompt an attitude of graciousness toward others?
1-“The Surpassing Value of Knowing Christ, A Study of Philippians,” by Beth Moore and Melissa Moore published by Living Proof Ministries, page 144.
2-“What is Grace?” by R.C. Sproul, Ligonier Ministries/Ligonier.org.