by Charles R. Swindoll
Paul deals with the value of being gracious in your Christian walk in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-11: "But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children."
What a gracious, tolerant spirit! The man was both approachable and tender. Did you notice the word pictures? He cared for others "as a nursing mother" and dealt with them in their needs "as a father." He had compassion. Of high priority to this capable, brilliant man of God was a gracious, compassionate attitude.
If there is one specific criticism we hear against our evangelical "camp" more than any other, it is this: We lack compassion. We are more abrasive and judgmental than thoughtful, tactful, compassionate, and tolerant. If we're not careful, we tend to use people rather than love them, don't we? We try to change them and later help them, rather than accept them as they are.
Our world of hungry, hurting humanity longs for and deserves the message of truth presented in attractive, gentle, gracious wrappings. Don't forget: "As a mother . . . as a father." There is positive affirmation implied rather than negative nitpicking.
People are far more important than rigid rules and demanding expectations.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.