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.
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.
Romans 12:17 tells us to, “not repay anyone evil for evil”…and I Corinthians 13:6 reminds us that, “Love doesn’t delight in evil.” The war of words is waged on a bloody battlefield… with many casualties and walking wounded that never recover from the pain inflicted by unkind and caustic words. When we simply take a moment and answer a mean verbal attack with kindness instead…it defuses the situation immediately…for we deprive the enemy of ammunition.
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.
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.