Grate-full or Grateful?

I overheard a woman the other day in a parking lot, obviously upset. "He really grates on my nerves!" she told her friend.

I didn't stick around to hear who the "he" was or the reason for the irritation. But I did come home and study the Word that afternoon.

"Grating" things or people have an unpleasant effect on us. That which "grates" us annoys, irritates and exasperates. 

"Grate" comes from the medieval Latin word grata.

Think about your kitchen grater or a rasp in a toolbox, and you'll get the idea. Some people or things scrape against us and make us feel raw. We might feel like our lives are shredding apart around them. Some people describe grating as "rubbing me the wrong way!"

Some things grate—or bother —us more than others.
  • Whining people grate on me. 
  • Constant chattering grates on my husband. (It's a habit I'm earnestly trying to conquer!)
When our lives are "grate-full," we may need to examine our own hearts.

It might not be things and people grating on us. It might be our wrong responses to people and circumstances (and perhaps, that's grating on them)!

The Bible uses words like "fool" and "vexation" in describing grating behaviors—a strong warning not be become a "grater" (Proverbs 12:16; 29:11).

A similar word, but with an entirely different meaning is "Grateful." It's from another Latin word, gratus (not to be confused with gratis). Gratus means "pleasing, agreeable and thankful." Grateful is loosely related to "grace!"

The application here is so obvious.

When life (things/people) grate against me, I need to give people more grace, and I need to be prudent (Proverbs 27:3b), humble, gentle, patient and loving (Ephesians 4:1-3) and at all times, grateful (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:19-20).

That is God's desire for all of us.

As we allow the peace of the Lord to rule in our hearts, we will learn to live in unity and gratitude (Colossians 3:15). 

Everything we do and say as Christ-followers should be done as His representatives on earth, and Paul says, in light of that, "give thanks to God" (Colossians 3:17). 

One of the ways we bring glory to God is in responding to the grating people and circumstances of life from His perspective, with His wisdom and grace, and in His strength. 

That means responding wisely and with grace when we:
  • are behind an impossibly slow car on the freeway;
  • are at Thanksgiving dinner and have to listen to Uncle Joey's jokes the umpteenth time; or
  • are standing behind a "screamer" in Walmart (the child, not the struggling mom).
Responding rightly often takes growing trust in the Lord, because sometimes we just can't understand why He allows the "grating" in our lives. And no wonder. . .
The grating process hurts!
But it can be hurt with purpose. When we surrender to God's working through difficult people and circumstances, this painful "grating" can scrape off our rough edges so we will look more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29).

So when your days are most "grate-full," ask the Lord to help you trust Him more. 

Ask the Lord to help you be more grateful!

 - Dawn
 Graphic adapted, courtesy of webandi at Pixabay.

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