32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
Remember when your parents taught you to be kind as a child? I was always told that we can’t control our circumstances—we can only control our response to them. Have you ever decided to respond to an unlikely situation with kindness and forgiveness instead of anger and backlash? Kindness seems like such a simple concept. However, kindness is more than just smiling or getting along with someone. Biblical kindness is supernatural because it is modeled by Jesus Christ Himself. Biblical kindness generates generosity toward others even when they DON’T deserve it or can’t reciprocate it.
I’ve been in so many different situations in my own life where the thought of forgiving someone who hurt me badly was too hard to imagine. Some of the most painful experiences for me personally have been within my own family as my sister struggles with mental illness. I’m sure you’ve struggled with similar situations as well.
BUT, then the Spirit convicts me straight to the core of my being, and I can’t help but ask: how can I not be kind and forgive others when I myself have hurt and turned my back on the Lord so many times? In His mercy, when I don’t deserve it, He PURSUES me in love and forgiveness. I have no right to hold grudges or bitterness in my heart.
Jerry Bridges puts it this way, “Love is costly. To forgive in love costs us our sense of justice. To serve in love costs us time. To share in love costs us money…Every act of love costs us in some way, just as it cost God to love us. But we are to live a life of love just as Christ loves us and gave Himself for us at great cost to Himself.”
We can’t pep ourselves up to be kind and forgive others. It only can come from the Holy Spirit living in us. We always hear of situations that have caused great pain, relationships that have been shattered because of the effects of sin—but in the face these, the power of the gospel was on display when forgiveness was extended.
Don’t you yearn to see that more in the church? Apostle Paul did. Just imagine the potential for broken relationships between Roman Gentiles and new Jewish converts who were now in the church together. This is why in the book of Ephesians Paul says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Paul didn’t say, “Wait to be kind to one another, or tenderhearted, waiting to forgive one another until they are kind and tenderhearted to you, forgiving you.” NO. Be kind, tenderhearted, and forgive AS God in Christ forgave YOU.
So the next time there’s a controversy about masks at church, or other sources of division due to the challenges of COVID, remember Christ saying, “Be kind.” Don’t forget. Kindness is NO small thing. It yields powerful and rich fruit in the lives of those around you.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Whom do you need to forgive?
- Are you holding debts over people’s heads they will never be able to pay, yet you continue to try to extract payment from them?
- What is one practical way you can extend biblical kindness to someone this week?
Kindness Challenge: Look around your household for items that you could use to spell out the word: kindness. When you are done, spend some time sharing with each other some ways each of you could show kindness to the people in your family this week!
Pray for Dwight and Dale, global workers from our church family. Dwight works to develop the DeafWay Bible, a Scripture resource for the deaf using sign roots. Sign roots make the translation of Scripture into the sign languages of other nations much easier. Think of the potential to reach the deaf around the world!