Philippians 4:8 says, " Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." This passage to me is grace. If you want to live graciously, do this. It's not what you do on the outside, it is what you dwell on in your mind. What it your focus? When you look at a white piece of paper with a smudge on it do you see the smudge or the white? How do you look at people. Do you dwell on the smudge or the white?
I so long to be gracious. I am the kind of person that sort of parts the seas. You either like me, or you hate me. There is no middle ground. I don't seem to swim with the pack. I am different. I am sort of artsy fartsy, flighty and strange. My thoughts run deep or maybe just in a whole different track. In either case, I don't know how to do small talk. I try, I really try but it's like speaking a foreign language.
I say all that because I have observed it. I know it's true, but at the depths of "me" I like who I am. I don't want to make myself different to be acceptable. I want people to enjoy me because I'm me. I want people to wink at my mistakes because, hey, we all make them.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:12, "whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them," I want people to be gracious towards me. It hurts me deeply when I befriend someone only to find out later that inside their heads they have dwelt on my faults instead of those traits listed in Philippians 4. Hidden contempt hurts me deeply. I get fooled sometimes when people "act" gracious but on the inside they are not. Eventually it comes out. Luke 6:45 "For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." I am often leveled by the shock of their contempt when it finally does come out. Contempt is a tool of the enemy. If Philippians 4:8 is good, then contempt is evil.
I don't always remember that I'm flirting with evil when I am dwelling on the faults of others but the evil is obvious to me when someone is dwelling on my faults. It is like a knife that cuts to the deepest part of me. Often those fiery darts talked about in Ephesians 6:16 come in the form of the contempt of another as they spew hurtful words and judgments towards me.
So it's become a battle, good against evil. Grace vs contempt. The biggest blow I can make against the enemy is to walk in grace. To dwell in grace. To dwell on what is noble, pure and lovely. I don't believe that grace is naive. Jesus didn't put up with evil. But He was also full of grace.