Sunday, September 23, 2012

Of Extending Grace and Evaluating Character

So, it would seem that I have been inundated with the word "grace" lately. I have many opinions on the subject :) but I will limit myself to one small corner of the grace world.

Earlier in the month I wrote that we should extend grace to others. That we should be so full of grace that impatience and selfishness is squeezed out.

Funnily enough, merely days before The Gypsy Mama posted "graceful" as the FMF topic of the week, I had had a conversation with someone where I stood by my decision to NOT give grace.

The question was put to me, if I spent the day with a stranger and monopolized the conversation talking about myself and fashion, would I want the person to extend grace to me and give me a second chance before coming to a judgment about who I was.

My answer, perhaps controversial, was no.

Why? Because I believe that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Oh yes, first impressions are so precarious. On the part of the person giving the impression, we want to put our best foot forward or at least portray ourselves how we honestly think of ourselves! But so often we go home and kick ourselves for saying THAT, oh how stupid I sounded, oh that was so rude of me I didn't even realize it!

For example: Once I wrote an e-mail to a guy (a guy that I had been wanting to impress). I carefully worded my letter, trying to sound good without sounding good (you know what I mean?). I was rather pleased with myself! Until I hit "send" and went to bed. Then I realized that I had omitted something that was so important and spiritual that, well, you can learn a lot about someone by what they omit, and I was afraid he would see me as unspiritual after I had tried so hard!

I just had to laugh at myself. Apparently God had put this person in my life not to be impressed by me, but to sanctify me, because I always seemed to mess up with him!

So anyway, back to that first impression. First impressions are not always correct. And those forming first impressions should be willing to extend grace to the person they are just meeting, realizing that he/she might be having an off day, before assessing who the person really is.

But, if someone was to spend a day with me and I was blatantly self-obsessed, shallow, and vain?

I sincerely doubt that I would do a 180 on the second try. Apparently, THAT is who I am, and although I might kick myself afterwards and try to cover up my ugliness on the subsequent meetings, the real me would still be underneath.

So, when it comes to evaluating character, do not be afraid to use discernment! The Bible highly values discernment and wisdom! Let us not ignore good sense for the sake of extending grace.


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