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.
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.
No matter how we work and strive to live a perfect life…we’ll never come close. For in Titus 3:5 it says, “He saved us not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy.” God’s wonderful and unexplainable mercy is gifted to us before we are even aware of our need. Malachi 1:2-3 states, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” To further illustrate this profound concept, Jesus tells us in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you…” The Lord’s compassion and kindness towards us is beyond our mental capacity…His desire to save us, beyond our comprehension.
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.