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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

True Grace

 


In light of all the news that's bombarding us this week, I thought a revisit to my book, Staying True in a World of Lies would be most timely. This entry is about exhibiting grace under pressure.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, 
so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)


We may say that a beautiful woman is graceful, but do we really mean that she is “full of grace?” More often, we mean she moves smoothly and elegantly; her gestures are agile and flowing; she is pleasant to behold.

Esther's manner and conduct in the king's court, both before and after she became queen, exuded a quiet grace in abundance. One line in the biblical account, in particular, bears this out. When Esther was entrusted to Hegai, the keeper of the king's harem, the Scripture says, “The girl pleased him and won his favor” (Esther 2:9). Esther's inner beauty, coupled with her humility and grace, were the magnetic charges that drew Hegai's (and soon the king's) favor. These set her apart from the rest of the beautiful women. It's likely that many of the other women were vain, enamored with their own loveliness, preoccupied with an external, eye-catching brand of beauty.

Esther, instead, seems to have exuded a gentle gracefulness. She didn't spend time bemoaning her fate—a young captive woman taken (whether willingly or unwillingly, we do not know) to spend the rest of her life confined to the king's harem; a Hebrew woman forevermore at the mercy of a capricious pagan king. Instead, Esther was pleasing to be around. In fact, the king's servant was so delighted with the graceful girl that he was pleased to serve her—even before she became queen.

Grace contributed greatly to Esther's successful foray into the king's court. Similarly, grace is a trait our post-modern marketplace is dying to experience—it's up to us as God's representatives to this culture to lavish His grace on our worlds.

And yet, just as every virtuous character quality of the Christ-follower, grace will not be met with favor by everyone in the marketplace. In fact, those we encounter may not even know that it's grace they really long to experience.

To those in the world, we who seek to exude a godly brand of grace seem to be living life upside down. Our entire mind-set and way of life is diametrically opposed to theirs. Jesus told us to expect as much. He warned His followers that they would be misunderstood, as aliens in a foreign land (John 17:14). And so we are, even today.

True grace that plays out in kindness and gentleness is not weakness (as the world often believes), but it's strength. Think of the grace Jesus Christ exhibited (John 1:14), and yet He was strong. He turned over tables in the temple when injustice had so obviously invaded the most sacred place on earth that bore the name of His Father. He didn't just invite demons to please remove themselves, rather He cast them out (Matthew 12:28). And yet He was equally full of grace—willingly laying down His own rights and privileges (Philippians 2) for the sake of our forgiveness.

Excerpted by permission from Staying True in a World of Lies, ©2002, 2010 Julie-Allyson Ieron; all rights reserved. Here's a link to the ebook if you like what you've read so far: