During this Holiday Season I need this verse in front of me constantly! So much to do, so little time, that sometimes I get very impatient. And what’s so funny, is that all those long lines are made up of the same impatient people that don’t want to be there either! This Scripture tells us to always try to be kind…goodhearted, and considerate to each other…even in the Holiday rush and crush of people. And if we can stop, take a deep breath, and consider the big picture of what Christmas really means…our agenda and plans will pale in comparison. So just think for a moment…it doesn’t take much effort to show kindness rather than being insensitive and rude.
Unity and mutual care for one another…that’s what the early Church did on a daily basis. With steadfastness and faithfulness to the Gospel, they walked out their lives in very practical but focused ways. They approached each day with open hands and open hearts…looking for needs and filling them. The early Church was centered around goodwill towards others…of encouragement and sharing…of loving one another. And the Lord added to their numbers daily. For people saw the Gospel being played out in front of them and they wanted what these Believers had. The world is still looking for that today…for care, and compassion…for love and acceptance. For the Church of the present has the same responsibility and opportunity to impact the world for Christ as the early Church did…maybe even more.
It tells us earlier in Acts that, “All the Believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2:44-45) This is how the early Church functioned…their inward focus was on unity and mutual care for one another. For they took the Lord’s charge to “Love one another” very seriously. And because of everyone’s personal commitment to “see a need, fill a need” …the early Church exploded. So I ask you, what would happen if all Believers committed to the “see a need, fill a need” directive…not waiting for someone else to do it, or thinking it’s only the Pastor’s responsibility? The early Church’s focus was on perfect unity and mutual care for one another…the Church today could only benefit from this same focus.
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.
I use the King James version of this Scripture today… because it states that it was the Church that God was adding to daily…(other versions say – God added to their numbers). So what was so different about this particular group of people? What we saw was unity and mutual care for one another. There was fellowship, prayer, and the breaking of bread among them…but there was also evangelism outside the four walls. The early Church was a delicate balance of both inward and outward focus…and God added to their numbers daily.
You can ask my husband, I intentionally engage checkout clerks, wait staff and anyone else who may be helping me. I am polite and courteous, asking how their day is going and allowing them to talk. I ask thoughtful questions and encourage them with kind-hearted words. The other day I was speaking to a sleepy looking cashier at a large retail store…come to find out he had worked until 1am and was back again at 4am for his next shift. Sadly, we become so focused on our own agenda…our own needs…our own impatience – that we totally forget that it’s another human being standing in front of us, with their own story. I challenge you this holiday season to give a kind word to all those assisting you…for you don’t know how it may cheer them up.
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.
To walk in love means that the love of God has become so ingrained in you that it has become part of your personality. I come from a long line of stoic German farmers who are not huggers, so when I became a Nurse, I had to train myself to touch people…sometimes in very intimate ways, in potentially embarrassing procedures. And over the years, showing compassion and God’s love through touch just became part of me. We all need to determine to walk in love. To respect rather than disregard…to forgive rather than condemn…to show mercy rather than harshness…to be kind rather than cruel.
Everyone can use encouragement…everyone likes words of appreciation. This week I was explaining to a group of ladies the purpose of this Devotional. Over 4 years ago, the Lord challenged me to become a modern-day Barnabas…an encourager of others. And in today’s world of negativity – I would challenge you also to become that man or woman of God that strengthens those around you…renewing souls with encouragement and gratitude…reviving and renewing those who are discouraged and down-trodden. A kind word could be life changing to someone around you today….resolve to be a Barnabas.
When was the last time you told someone what the Lord was doing in your life? We forget to share with each other the small miracles…the blessings…the small but good stuff. We’re really good about complaining…how about praising instead.