The joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) And during those dark times in our lives when our spirit is broken, it’s that joy we need to hold tightly to. For it’s the blessedness and gratitude of joy that can change our attitude and view of things. The situation we’re in may not change…but the joy of the Lord will strengthen us to press on.
None of us is immune to grief, suffering, and troubles…for they are just part of this journey we call life. But it’s good to reflect on the attributes of the Lord spoken of in this Scripture today. God’s love for us is everlasting and unconditional…for there is nothing in and of ourselves we can do to obtain this love…it is a free gift given by grace not our works. But also there is nothing so terrible we can ever do that this love can’t reach us. Mercy and kindness are central to God’s character, and it’s out of this great love for us that we can find forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
This verse starts out with the words, “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord”. The Hebrew word for “tell” here has two definitions – the first being to remember or reflect upon, the second being to declare or proclaim. When we stop and reflect upon just how much the Lord has done for us…how many good things He has provided…how merciful and kind He has been towards us – how can we not want to share with others this love? Ephesians 2:4 tells us, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” It is only by that unwarranted, unmerited love of God you are the person you are today through Him.
We can’t begin to fathom God’s great compassion towards us. For we are separated from Him by our sin… spiritually dead…with no hope. But God saw us through eyes of unconditional love…looking beyond who we were, to who we could become in Christ Jesus. This gift of grace is extended to all…for it says, “it is by grace you have been saved.” The work has already been done, it was accomplished on Golgotha when Jesus was crucified. There is nothing we can do to receive it, for it is God’s unearned and unmerited favor that bestows this free gift of eternal life on us. We may never be able to fathom God’s mercy, but we can accept and trust in His Son, Jesus.
Jesus summed up best how we should conduct ourselves when it comes to the people in our lives that are unappreciative, ungrateful, and just plain mean. In Luke 6:35-36 Jesus tells us, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Doing the right thing for someone who is critical and inconsiderate goes against everything we’re made of…but Christ reminds us that He shows mercy to all, and we should also.
God is ever merciful and kind towards you…regardless of how badly you act towards Him. It tells us in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We need to reflect the mercy God first showed us by forgiving others. Forgiveness is so very powerful…because it’s the starting point for both parties to begin the road towards healing. For without forgiveness, there will never be a release from all the negative and dark emotions of resentment, anger, and bitterness. For without forgiveness, you are never really set free from the past.
One of the pit-falls of any ministry is that we start glorifying ourselves, not God. Pride starts to push itself in…and soon our ego is searching for the limelight and honor. II Corinthians 4:1 states, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” It’s only because of God’s infinite compassion on us that we have any kind of ministry at all. And it’s only because of the indwelling Holy Spirit empowering us that we can act as ambassadors, representing our Lord. When a ministry glorifies God…and not our egos, good things happen.
Demonstrating kindness to others can only benefit ourselves…for it doesn’t cost a thing to be kind. Matthew 7:12 is considered “The Golden Rule”, its principle being, we need to treat others as we would wish to be treated. But instead, we human beings usually demand love, respect, and appreciation… whether we deserve it or not. The Golden Rule simply says…Do you want respect, love and appreciation?…then show respect, love and appreciation to others first. Jesus desires us to be proactive in our kindness…not waiting until someone is kind to us first, but rather reaching out with kindness first, regardless if it’s reciprocated or not.
Do you have an attitude of gratitude towards God? Is your perspective colored by thankfulness for what the Lord has done in your life? It’s then you fully realize the compassion and love God has lavished on you… and that you have been called and set apart for His work. For out of that profound gratitude will come a desire to serve and to live a life worthy of the calling. (Eph. 4:1)