Light dawns in the darkness for the upright—for the gracious, compassionate, and righteous. (Psalm 112:4)

Are you discouraged? Do you feel darkness surrounding you? Discouragement is too often part of our thinking.  

Here is a promise that should lift our spirits. When anyone determines to think and act graciously, compassionately, and righteously, the Lord notices and turns to aid him.

First, thinking positive things about others, rather than negative, seeing them as objects of grace changes our attitude about life. When we think this way towards others a sadness is removed from our hearts. It is as though the blinds that kept out the light are taken away.  

To be constantly annoyed by others, to be quick to think the worst, to be quick to judge and feel false emotions of our superiority and their inferiority, is to invite darkness to make itself at home in our soul. I know so many deeply conservative Christians who are also deeply unhappy. They see only the bad, and sadly they are so quick to believe the worst, that they have lost their joy and their hope. They quickly latch onto the worst news items, even if such “news” is not based on fact at all, or even a misrepresentation of facts.

Why not be gracious? Philippians 4:8-9 says:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 

Second, when we think graciously, we act graciously. Our actions follow our thoughts. We live in a fallen and sinful world, but we live in this world with a new hope that comes through Christ. Our personal world need not be darkened by hate and doubt and sin. Our own hearts can rejoice daily and can see the true potential of each life. And when we think this way we will act in accordance with our thoughts.

Years ago, when our daughter was a young teenager seeking to grow in her faith, she was going through that “agony of the soul” stage where she was understanding both her own sinfulness and the sinfulness of the world itself. She was seeking unsuccessfully to share her faith with her friends at school, and one day I asked her: “Are you seeking to win your friends to Christ so they can be as miserable as you?”

She outgrew this stage and has gone on to be a beautiful Christian woman. How we need Christians to witness not just with their words — and it IS essential to bear a verbal witness about Christ — but also with their attitudes and their kindness, AND their fairness. 

Third, when we think and act graciously, the Lord comes to our aid. He rushes to help us, to sustain us, to protect us: “Light dawns for the upright!” Consider these scriptures:

“A generous soul will prosper, and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Prov. 11:25).

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

“Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your harvest; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10). 

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not out of regret or compulsion. For God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:6-7).

“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse” (Prov. 28:27).

None of this means we shut our eyes to the reality of sin, to the evil that is in men’s hearts, and certainly not the evil that is in ours. It does not mean that we shut our eyes to the judgment of God or the fallenness of this world. It means, rather, that we do not let our imagination stop there. We consider also the grace of God and the potential of each life. We are willing to risk having our words and gracious behavior rejected – which they will be from time to time.   

When we do this we will live in light, we will touch others with hope and love, and God will come to our aid. 

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