Last night during our family devotional time, the subject was kindness. When Jackie read, "God commands kindness," my first thought was, "YES! Maybe the kids will listen up and quite smacking each other and calling each other weird." Ha ha! Today I used last night's devotional as a gentle reminder that God COMMANDS kindness. It's not just a suggestion from your parents; the sovereign creator of the universe expects it from each one of us. This is something that I think even (especially?) adults forget. In fact I was recently reading a personal devotion about how we Christians will endure hardship and persecution from "the world" and my first thought was, "Who needs the world when we have other Christians to hurt us." = (
A while back the thought had occurred to me that the metal cover on the vent for the air conditioning unit at the end of our hall would be a good place to display Bible verses. You can't help but look at it as you walk down the hall so my family members and I could read the verse often and hopefully commit it to memory. (Scripture memorization is something I personally really want to work on.) So I got ready to type up a verse and print it out today but first I Googled verses about kindness to see what all I had to choose from. I decided on Ephesians 4:32 which is pretty straight-forward and easily communicated and memorized for young children..."Be kind to one another." But then I stumbled upon a sermon online by John Piper on Ephesians 4:31-5:2. I loved the way it opened my eyes and deepened my understanding so I wanted to share it with you guys.
First of all I wondered if my kids truly knew what being kind meant. The dictionary defines kind as "having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature." All too often I equate kindness with being polite but it's so much more than that for the Christian! Ephesians 4:31-5:2 says this:
"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
Kindness is not about putting on a good show and being nice even though you still have bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander in your heart. What is it, then? We can know if we look to God for an example. God sacrificed His Son, Christ gave Himself for us because He loves us so much that there was nothing He wouldn't give for our safety. Yes, human beings are in danger because they sin--they disobey God in His perfect holiness. And God, being so tenderhearted, was so saddened by this that He gave everything that He had, the most precious thing--part of Himself--to restore a wonderful relationship with us again. God didn't do this just for the "good" people with "little" sins--you know, those sitting around you at church. He didn't do it only for the likable people and the people you are naturally drawn to be friends with. He did it for every single one of us. And I don't know about you but I cannot ignore the fact that that gives every single person tremendous value! We need to recognize that and forget about our petty emotionally reactions. Put away bitterness and wrath and anger. Let love quite the clamor and close slanderous mouths. These things are inappropriate ways to respond to something that our God loves so deeply. It seems to me that other people deserve our best--our kindness--because God gave them His best.
More than anything I want to show my children the world through God's eyes. I hope that I can instill in them the knowledge of how honestly treasured we are and that that knowledge will lead them to do as 1 Thessalonians 5:15 directs us to do: "Always try to be kind to each other and everyone else." I also hope that I don't just slap on a happy face and try to be nice in the flesh from here on out. I hope that these thoughts will be at the forefront of my mind and that I'll keep my priorities straight with love at the top of the list. And as someone once said, "Kindness is just love with it's work boots on."