Be kind to one another…. Ephesians 4:32a ESV
My mind has been thinking about kindness all week long. I have asked myself over and over, “What does being kind to someone really look like?” Is it handing money to someone who is holding a sign? How about taking cookies to the neighbor next door, or a meal to a sick friend? What does pure, unadulterated, with-no-strings-attatched kindness look like? I suppose if I were to ask multiple people that question, I would receive multiple definitions or opinions. So how do I answer that question? According to a dictionary, the definition is: “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” As in all questions in life, we should look to Jesus for the answers, for in every way, He ultimately lived examples of kindness toward those around him. Let us take the three dictionary definitions and compare them to how Jesus lived.
FRIENDLY: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:12-13 ESV Being friendly can create a good feeling, but what about being friendly to those who don’t deserve it? I see Jesus laying down His life for those who would later be His friend, before they even considered being so. In other words, being friendly could require sacrifice on our part to accomplish something greater than could ever be imagined. Jesus was criticized by those who saw Him hanging around with sinners. The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Luke 7:34 ESV Remember Jesus never sinned; He was the perfect Lamb of God, and it did not keep Him from showing kindness to those he encountered every day. Jesus displayed kindness from the cross when He spoke these words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 ESV He could have called twelve legions of angels. (Matthew 26:53) Being friendly is easy toward those who are friendly, but being so to those who are not friendly may require sacrifice on your part…. sacrificing YOUR personal rights, attitudes of the flesh, and comforts, for the purpose of the gospel. As Christians, we should set the example ….. that’s what Jesus did for us.
GENEROUS: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34 ESV If your acts of kindness are just for making you feel good, then it is for selfish reasons. But if it is to be obedient to God, then it doesn’t matter how it makes you feel. I want you to think of kindness in love as something that will bring much glory to God, and let that be your motivation. Jesus spoke these words, For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. John 6:38 ESV …. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. John 17:5 ESV What greater love can we give, than to show kindness? That should be evident in the life of the Christian because God has generously poured His love into our hearts. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5b ESV Being generous with kindness can feel a lot like work because kindness is not easy to show in every situation…especially to those who have not been kind to us. Remember, we are to: let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works and GIVE GLORY to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 ESV
CONSIDERATE: Have you ever met someone who seems to make life all about them? And you would like to say, “It’s not about you!” In reality, we might need to say to ourselves, “It’s not about me.” Consideration is something that is taught to a person and normally doesn’t come naturally. We train children how to share and be considerate to their friends, and rightly so, for it can improve their life experience. Perhaps it is time for some retraining of ourselves to be more considerate to those who might not deserve it. Let’s look at how Jesus lived this by example…. Let each of you look not only to his own interest but also to the interest of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being in the likeness of men, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8 ESV Jesus considered us important enough to empty himself and die on a cross. Do you suppose we could empty ourselves by showing kindness and pointing people to the cross? This is not an easy work, but it is a work worth doing in a world that so badly needs to see the love that God has for them. It is in acts of undeserved kindness that Christ is revealed….. just like he has done for us.
APPLICATION: Be kind to one another. Ephesians 4:32a This next week, do something on purpose for God in an act of kindness toward someone who might not deserve it. To a person who cuts you off in traffic….smile and wave. To someone who cuts in front of you at the coffee shop…. buy them coffee and wish them a great day. To someone who is unkind to you in a store or at work…. give them a kind word or blessing. You are not responsible for their actions, but you are for yours. Be like Jesus…. even when they don’t deserve it, for this is how He has treated us…. while we were yet sinners…. He died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David