Are you your own worst critic? Eager to speak a kind word to another, saving the harshest words in speaking to yourself? Can you forgive the mistakes of others, yet yours is on a movie wheel that continuously plays in your head? God says that when we both confess and repent of our sins He forgives and forgets, wiping the slate clean. So if He remembers no more, why can’t we forget? Because two of the of the greatest weapons Satan has in his armory are guilt and shame. And he wields them generously. Satan, whose name means Accuser, does just that. He whispers in our ears that we are unclean, unforgivable, unworthy, and unloved. He delights in reminding us of our past sins, trying to inject our hearts with feelings of doubts about God’s mercy, kindness, and love. But He is the father of lies. (John 8:44) So when God calls you forgiven, believe it! Not as a hopeful wish, but as a divine fact.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Loving one another doesn’t always come easy. And some days, it doesn’t come at all. And although no one can love as unconditionally and perfectly like Jesus, still we are called to love like Him just the same. But what is Christlike love? Contrary to popular culture, it isn’t butterflies in the stomach, or a sappy song on the radio. Genuine, Christlike love isn’t found in a feeling. Rather it’s found in the way we treat others. Each time we show patience, kindness, and goodness to another, we are loving them the way Jesus does. Christlike love isn’t envious of another’s blessings or based in arrogance and pride. It doesn’t intentionally hurt others, nor keep a scorecard of another’s past mistakes. Instead it demonstrates it’s deep love for God by obediently loving others not in words, but in godly deeds.
As the perfect fulfillment of the Law, with His death the Lord freed us from living under a set of rules. Yet because we’re all in various stages of our spiritual growth, what we feel free to do or not do means different things to different people. And Paul tells we need to respect those differences with patience and kindness. Instead of saying, “I’m not giving up my rights because another Christian hurt feelings about it!”, say, “From a Christlike love, it’s better to limit my own freedom than to cause a weaker believer to stumble.” Paul knows of what he speaks. As an apostle personally chosen by Jesus, Paul was entitled to certain rights specified by God. But instead of claiming these rights, he voluntarily laid them aside for a greater reward. (1 Cor. 18-19, 23) Paul thought it a great privilege to serve the Lord. And although he never compromised his convictions, he was more than willing to put his comfort, needs, opinions, and rights behind those of others. And all to grow God’s kingdom.
As followers of Jesus we are to show the grace of God to all we meet. For we are His representatives here in the world. And as Paul tells us, “a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Cor. 2:15) Meaning our lives should be such wonderful testimonies of the love and grace of Jesus, they are lights to those who receive Him, and a condemnation to those who reject Him. But we can’t be those glorious reflections if our roots are tangled in bitterness, anger, and strife. Because such things only lead to trouble in our life and the lives of others. Instead we need to be deeply rooted in God and nourished by His grace. Only then will we be able to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving; just as God in Christ forgave us.
When asked to describe true beauty, author Mandy Hale wrote, “There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.” That’s who the Proverbs 31 woman is. Clothed in strength and dignity, her heart is completely surrendered to God. And from thankfulness for all of God’s blessings, sprouts a character worthy of her family’s praise. The words she speaks are useful for others to hear. They edify, encourage, and counsel, while sharing the teachings of the Lord. Her beauty comes from humility, kindness, and wisdom. She is faithful and good, with the glory of the Lord radiating through her. And the godly qualities she exhibits shine brightly and more brilliantly than the finest diamond! No wonder her family cries out, “Her worth is far above jewels!” (Prov. 31:10)
1 John 3:1
God didn’t hold back His goodness waiting for Saul, the persecutor of Jews, to become Paul, the apostle of Christ. Instead He showed grace, love, and kindness to Saul while he was knee deep in his wretchedness. Because God doesn’t want us waiting to come to Him until we’re “all cleaned up”, and ready to go. He wants us to come to Him as we are, dirty, broken, and hurting. To leave the cleaning up to Him. For He showers us with His Spirit who washes us anew, working to mold us into the image of Christ. The truth is, in our own wretchedness we could never get our filthy rags clean enough to stand before Almighty God. So in His unmerited kindness and love, He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ. Through whose shed blood we can be transformed from a Paul to a Saul, and most wonderful of all, be called children of God.
2 Chronicles 10:14
After the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam traveled to Shechem to meet with Israel and be crowned king. The people took the change of power as an opportunity to plead for kindness and mercy from their new ruler. In return for lower work loads and taxes, they would give to Rehoboam their loyalty and servitude. But the king, after listening to bad advice, sent back an answer not of grace and mercy, but of threats and violence. And the result? The people killed the new taskmaster. A rebellion arose, the kingdom of Israel was split in two, and Rehoboam fled for his life. Our decisions and actions can have long lasting and tragic consequences. Had Rehoboam chosen kindness, not only would he have glorified God, but brought peace throughout the land.
When Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, (Matt. 5:39) He knows what He’s asking is hard. Because when we’ve been hurt, betrayed, and disillusioned, our first response is to retaliate. But if Jesus had that attitude, humanity would never have been saved. The Lord had command of over twelve legions of angels at His disposal. At anytime Christ could have walked away from the Cross, and taken revenge against those who wronged Him. Yet instead He responded with unmerited love and kindness, sacrificing Himself for all. In our own strength showing kindness to those who deserve it the least is impossible. But in God’s strength, we can do all things; including loving our enemies. Because we too were once enemies of God. But in His great love, He didn’t give us what we deserved. Instead He gave us kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and everlasting life.
I once heard humility described as not thinking less of yourself, but rather thinking of yourself less. In his writings, the apostle Paul stressed the importance of humility in the Christian walk. As exampled by Jesus, humility and kindness go hand in hand. And if we want to mimic our Lord, we can’t have overinflated egos that leave no room for the needs of others. Jesus lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a humiliating, excruciatingly painful death nailed to a Cross. He willingly became our substitute for sin, paying the debt we owed. All in accordance to the will of God and out of His love and kindness for mankind. We are Christ’s ambassadors on earth. And although we’ll never be able to repay His wonderful gift of salvation, making sure our actions reflect His humility and kindness is a great place to start!
I love the quote, “Niceness is overrated. Be kind.” Have you ever thought about the difference between the two? A nice person asks are you hungry? But a kind person will bring you food without needing to be asked. Because at the root of kindness is a heart of Christ. One that wants the best for another. While being nice stems from a fleshly heart yearning to be liked. And sadly, often times Christians are nice, not kind. Because being kind costs us. It means going out of our way, setting ourself aside, to do something for someone else. Throughout the Bible we see how God both delights in and rewards sacrificial giving. And as Solomon tells us, the kind person benefits themselves. Because we reap what we sow. And by sowing the seeds of kindness, not only are we storing up treasures for ourselves in heaven, but guaranteeing a bountiful crop that blesses others.