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Devotional: February 15, 2022

"Love is long-suffering and kind. It does not envy; does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth: bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

First Corinthians 13: 4-8 The Message

“When you’re kind to others, you help yourself; when you’re cruel to others, you hurt yourself.”

Proverbs 11:17 The Message

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, a day on which many people think of love, particularly romantic love. Yet the topic of love is much larger and deeper than romantic love, and deserves to be focused upon for more than a single day. Here, two different passages, once each from the Old Testament and New Testament, speak about love and kindness.

If I were to wish for anything in the world, it would be for people to be kind to one another. Both of these passages contrast love and kindness with behavior that is the opposite: cruel, selfish, rude, and even evil.

Often, we see people who act with cruelty, and thoughtlessness. They think only of themselves, and care little about what others think. The passage form Proverbs reminds us actions do have consequences. If we are cruel to someone, there may be a temporary sense of satisfaction and we may believe that the person deserved our cruelty. Yet God has placed within each of us a conscience, and a sense of right and wrong. The one who is truly hurt in the end is the one who chose to act cruelly.

Kindness, on the other hand, seeks to serve others, and to do so in a polite, caring, and thoughtful way. The writer of Proverbs even makes the excellent point that when we are kind to others, that kindness is often reflected back to us. Thus, the author of Proverbs is correct in saying that when you are kind to others, you end up helping yourself almost as a side benefit. People may not always remember your specific words or actions, but they will remember how you made them feel. They will remember you with great fondness if you were kind.

The Apostle Paul’s description paints love as a force which holds back our sinful nature, restraining and preventing us from doing things which would cause harm. However, love also shows itself by providing perseverance during difficult times filled with suffering. Love is drawn to, and seeks out truth, and it is characterized to hope. It is a force which never fails because it outlasts difficulties, enduring everything.

May we who follow Jesus be known for our love and kindness, even as our Lord was known for His unconditional love…

Prayer

God of love,

You call me to love You, my neighbors, my enemies, and myself. When someone is rude or unkind, help me not respond by mirroring their bad behavior. Forgive me when I stumble and lose the loving path You want me to follow. Remind me of Your desire for us to show love, even when I do not want to do so. Help me to become as loving, and as kind, as Your Son, my Savior Jesus Christ. I pray this prayer in His Holy name. Amen.


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