Book Review: Graciousness

Posted: Friday, February 9, 2018 in Book review, Counseling, Pastoral

Sometimes we have some important things to say to our Christian brothers and sisters, but the way we say it directly affects the way they receive our message. Sharing your message with harshness, a critical spirit, a condescending attitude, anger, or even a scowl is like communicating wonderful things with terribly bad breath. The person you are talking to could completely miss out on the benefits of your message simply because of the way you deliver it. [Loc 56, Kindle ed.]

31xophoamtl-_ac_us218_Does the above describe something you have done in the past? Or when another person thinks about your character and your approach, would they describe this as part of who you are? A person the means well – but is sometimes just mean? Then John Crotts has much to say to you (me) in Graciousness: Tempering Truth with Love (Reformation Heritage Books, 2018). He offers a biblical understanding of the danger above along with the cure – graciousness.

After defining and associating graciousness with gentleness, kindness and love (Chapter 1), Crotts walks us through the biblical passages that speak directly to the issue (Chapter 2), and offers examples of how Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul lived out graciousness: Jesus always, without sin; Paul not so much before his conversion, but much so after. Graciousness is something we can learn and ought to be learned from their examples (Chapters 3-4).

But not only is graciousness to be learned (head), it must be cultivated (heart) (Chapter 6). As with any biblical principle or imperative, it is one thing to know, quite another to act; to be doers of the Word and not hearers only (James 1:22). It is in cultivation that our own heart is changed and our mindset and actions for others is changed (Chapters 7-8). This is demonstrated, or ought to be demonstrated, notably in community, in the church, as brothers and sisters encourage one another, exhort one another, rebuke one another, correct one another, etc. And one of the best ways to cultivate graciousness in your own heart is to spend time with other gracious Christians. It is in the context of community that Crotts offers solid, practical counsel on cultivating graciousness (Chapter 9).

Of course, real biblical graciousness cannot be learned or cultivated apart from the transforming grace of the gospel, God saving a person and changing them by His grace and for His glory. This is the final chapter in book, but primary for the chapters that precede it (Chapter 10).

While the Spirit of God faithfully creates the kind of gentle character within the hearts of true believers in Christ that the Word of God requires, believers are also responsible to use every means available to cultivate the heart attitudes that lead to consistently gracious interactions with others. As you grow in your knowledge and love for God’s truth, you must fight your pride against using God’s truth to club those around you. As the Lord Jesus has been so kind, patient, and gracious to you, those marks must melt your heart…

As your heart becomes softened by His transforming grace, you should be motivated to do what it takes, with the Spirit’s help, to communicate that same grace to everyone around you. [Loc 1700, Kindle ed.]

Everyone will profit spiritually from this book. I would recommend it to pastors as a tool for counsel and correction. It is with 20+ years of pastoral experience (in one congregation!) that Crotts has practiced these things. His wisdom is well worth your time.

I received a copy of this book from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review.

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