Every time I read this verse, it stops me in my tracks (sometimes it slaps me in the face):
“A gracious woman gets honor.” – Proverbs 11:16
A gracious woman. When I stop and think about what it looks like to be a gracious woman, I’m always reminded of how little I reflect that description. The definition of the word gracious is “courteous, kind, pleasant.” I tend to think of this behavior in terms of responding to people, so let’s look at gracious behavior in relation to two different ways we are treated.
#1 Gracious behavior when we are not treated as well as we think we deserve to be treated
It’s not easy to admit, but we all face situations where we feel we’ve been treated unfairly:
- When someone pulls out in front of you in traffic
- When someone takes the credit for your work on an office project
- When you aren’t asked to participate in a group activity (at church, with friends, etc.)
- When someone forgets an important holiday like your birthday or anniversary
How does a gracious woman respond in those situations? I think the answer is found in the next verse:
“He who is kind benefits himself.” – Proverbs 11:17
She is kind, treating the giver of the unfair treatment better than they deserve. It’s certainly not my default response, but kindness is the way a gracious woman responds to unfair treatment.
#2 Gracious behavior when we are treated better than we feel we deserve
That’s an interesting one, isn’t it? Many women prefer to stay out of the spotlight and do not like having attention drawn to them. I am one of those people – I’d rather be the person with the clipboard, organizing the event, instead of the person up on stage doing the speaking! When someone compliments me or does an act of kindness for me, I tend to feel uncomfortable and want to quickly dismiss the attention.
Here are some other situations where we might feel this way:
- When someone surprises you with a gift
- When someone compliments the way you look
- When someone does an act of service for you (brings you a meal, offers to watch your kids, helps with a project at work)
How does a gracious woman respond to those situations? Kindness. She is courteous, pleasantly acknowledging the deed and making the giver feel appreciated.
Being a gracious woman starts at home, in the way we respond to our husbands and children. I am asking the Lord to help me become a gracious woman! Here in the South I could say, “Gracious, I have a long way to go!”
Here are two other practical posts on this subject, from someone who is a lovely example of a gracious woman (my Mom!):