Day 6: Kindness
Our church recently had a men’s weekend “retreat” (read, “ski trip with a Bible study one morning before the slopes opened”), and the theme was ‘Kindness’. Hubs went with our thirteen-year-old son.
As they walked in the door Sunday evening our middle daughter was in the throes of a hissy fit because she couldn’t get the TV system to turn on correctly. She yelled upstairs for assistance. Her brother responded, in a calm, kind, and incredibly mature voice, “Just a minute, I’ll be right down to help you.”
It was instantly clear to me that some manner of Invasion of the Body Snatchers had taken place over the weekend.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) the effects were short-lived. By the next day the boy was back to growling at his sister with his usual post-hibernation-Grizzly-Bear undertones and snarled lip, somehow transforming the two syllables of her name into eight.
Kindness is a powerful preventative to the need for forgiveness, isn’t it? My son’s kindness to his sister—both in his words and actions—defused a potential firestorm of mutual emotion and reaction. I don’t think he even realized that he also forgave her before he even responded to her demands. He could’ve (and normally would’ve) judged her selfish and bratty and obnoxious for interjecting her needs into the atmosphere before he even got to put his bags down or tell his mom about his weekend.
Many of the wounds I’ve received from others could’ve been preempted by kindness, as much as or more from my side even than from theirs. I could choose to think the best of the person who offended or hurt me, and assume he or she didn’t really intend me harm.
Why is that so hard?
* * *
[At] whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things… So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
* * *I need more kindness inside my heart, Father. I want to be more like you, whose chesed, or loving-kindness, knows no limit. No matter how often or how deeply my words and ways offend your holiness, in your kindness you forgive me and you welcome me back. Teach me how to be kind to those around me. Highlight the things I do and say that have no kindness in them. Show me a way I can change, even today.
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With questions for personal meditation and space for journaling, this 40-day devotional series offers a deeper look at Christ's command that we forgive. For a personal pilgrimage, or as a resource for group Bible study,40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey invites seekers of forgiveness and healing to the path on which God longs to meet us all. $6.49 at Amazon.com. Find out more about 40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey.