The world can be a nasty, very mean, very unkind place. Recently a poor lady whom my wife regularly helps was robbed of the food and blanket we gave her. When she told me who the culprit was, I happened to be familiar with him, and so I went looking for him. Probably thankfully (for me!) I didn’t find him. But the ordeal deeply troubled me.
Later the same day, I was exposed to other bad, sinful, and malicious behaviour. This time it was at the hands—well, the fingers or perhaps the thumbs—of Christians towards another Christian, who was also a woman. It was an ocean away and it occurred behind the keyboards of vicious “truth warriors” (whom I suspect have merely converted their computers and smart phones into coward’s castles). Their behaviour towards this woman was as unkind as the actions of the thief in my neighbourhood.
A friend of mine, who pastors in another African country, once said to me, “Christians, even church members, can be vicious.” Sad, but true. Tragically, sometimes sheep grow fangs. And their bite can be lethal, at least to the reputation, if not the soul, of its victims. There is no excuse for this. No justification can be found for Christians to be nasty, mean, or vicious to others. Rather, we are to be kind. That doesn’t mean milquetoast. It doesn’t mean compromising. It doesn’t mean ignoring sin. It does mean treating people with respect, even if showing respect means holding them responsible for their wrongs. And the reason we are to be kind is because we are the recipients of God’s kindness.
Paul wrote to Titus, exhorting him to teach his church members to live respectably and respectfully,
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
There’s a lot here, but clearly God expects his children to follow his example of showing mercy and kindness and respect to others. After all, consider what we were and what we would still be if God had not shown ussuch kindness and love.
Christian parents often teach their young children Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind one to another.” Wonderful. But what kind of example are we displaying? It is a new week and we will have lots of opportunity to be kind to others. So, be kind!
The longer we are in lockdown, the more stress many of us are experiencing. And with increased stress can come increased temptation to snap at others, to be judgemental, to lob verbal bombs from our keyboards, and other ugly responses. In other words, we may be more prone to be unkind in our attitudes, actions, and words.
Have you found this already on the highway? At school? At the shops? At the workplace? In your home with your own family members? Online? What can we do to avoid this? How can we be kind?
First, be prepared. Just as Jesus warned the disciples to “watch and pray’,” so we must be alert to our naturaldefault of unkindness.
Second, remember God’s kindness to you when you did not deserve it. Let the gospel influence your disposition and reactions.
Third, depend on the Holy Spirit for the ability to overcome nastiness and to practice kindness. By virtue of the new birth, Christians have supernatural ability to overcome what is otherwise “natural.” Rather than the nasty of the natural, Christians are called to be righteously nice. And being kind is a productive way towards that calling. So, brothers and sisters, let’s do it.
Committed to being kind to and with you,