Devotional: January 12, 2021
Those who are kind reward themselves,
but the cruel do themselves harm.
Proverbs 11: 17 The Message
Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 2: You say, ‘We know that God’s judgement on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.’ Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
Romans 2: 1-4 NRSV
To be cruel, or to be kind? That is the ultimate question many of us face, when it comes to how we interact with others.
The world seems like it could use a little more kindness. Therefore, I want to consider what the scriptures teach about this concept of being kind.
The Proverbs verse focuses on the effects of kindness or cruelty on the one expressing action. So often, we focus our thoughts on those who receive our actions. Many people in our world ask this question, “Why should I be kind to them, when they do not deserve such kindness?”
God’s word provides a striking answer. Even if you do not believe kindness is warranted by the actions of another person, acting kindly towards them is probably a smart thing to do. Why? One reason is that we seldom know everything another person is going through. What we see may not be the whole story, and seldom is. Also, the scriptures promise that you will be rewarded for your kindness towards another. Perhaps you will be thought of as a kind person by others. Maybe your reward will only happen in heaven. However, the great parable of judgement in Matthew 25 reminds us that even simple acts of kindness (offering a cup of cold water) can have profound heavenly implications. No one is irredeemable.
The Romans passage comes at the subject of kindness obliquely, rather than directly. Sometimes, we are tempted to judge other people. They may be quite different than us, or have different beliefs. We may judge them harshly, and sometimes unkindly. We can even be cruel in our judgments, and try to get God on our side in our condemnation.
Yet Paul reminds his Roman congregation that there is another reason we should be kind: God is kind to us. Even when did not deserve His kindness, God loved us, and showed us mercy and loving-kindness. I don’t believe anyone would want to deny themselves that gift, so why would we think someone else should be denied that gift from the Lord?
The kindness of the Lord was expressed memorably in a song, “Your Kindness” by Leslie Phillips. Here is one version which may inspire you…
Your kindness (piano/voice cover) - Leslie Phillips song "Your Kindness" - sublime song by Leslie Phillips from 1987. The original was great, but its production has dated slightly. Stripped down here to 'unplugged' piano + voice, and recorded live. Vocal - Rachel Mason Piano - Eric Liggins www.youtube.com
Lord, I am unworthy of Your kindness and forgiveness. Thank You for Your Son Jesus, who died for each and every sin I have committed. Help me to remember that You, Lord, are not selective in who you forgive. By accepting Your Son into my heart as my Lord and Savior, You offer me the forgiveness for every sin I repent to You. May I remember that You offer that same love and forgiveness to all who repent. Help me to be that bridge, and not the barrier, so others may know you. May my kindness towards those who challenge me light the way for them to seek Your path.
With an open heart I pray this prayer in the name of the One who was the embodiment of love, Your Son and My Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen