Tag Archives: kindness

Isaiah 8-11; Radically Changed

Isaiah talks about Jesus. Some of these verses are very familiar prophesies about the coming of the Messiah. So beautiful!

I pulled out Matthew Henry and read his take on these passages. Then I reread the chapters in Isaiah to see if I could see what Henry saw. I absolutely love what the prophet shares about what Christ brings to us, what Christianity is all about. God changes human nature when that nature is laid at the foot of the cross.

In chapter 11, Isaiah uses word pictures to describe the person who encounters Jesus. He speaks of wolves and lambs, leopards and goats, calves and lions… all living in harmony. The most vicious of animals no longer vicious. Cobras without venom, harmless vipers when the world is full of the knowledge of the Lord.

Or, when your world is full of the knowledge of the Lord.

Henry says this:

“This is fulfilled in the wonderful effect of the gospel upon the minds of those that sincerely embrace it; it changes the nature, and makes those that trampled on the meek of the earth, not only meek like them, but affectionate towards them.” (Commentary in one Volume; Zondervan Publishing House, 1961; p 845)

Has God radically changed you? Or is there still a bit of that wolf, that leopard, or that viper in you? Embrace the Gospel. Let Jesus transform you into that person who loves like Jesus loves, who has compassion and kindness toward others.

Would it change your family dynamics if you did that? How about your workplace, your neighborhood, your church? Would it effect your prayer life? Your Bible study? Would it effect how you view yourself?

The radical change that comes from a right relationship with the Messiah is always, ALWAYS change that is good!

Be Ye Kind

My dad loved to tell the story about a time I, as a young child, disobeyed him. (I know, hard to believe) The story goes that as he was taking off his belt to swat my behind, I began to sing a little chorus I had learned in Sunday School. It goes like this:

Be ye kind, be ye kind, be ye kind to one another.

Dad said he couldn’t help but laugh, and put his belt back on.

Paul tells us to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving, “even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

Kindness isn’t something we do to get out of trouble. Tenderheartedness isn’t something we do to get attention. And forgiving someone isn’t always easy.

Kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness aren’t only things we do, but rather things we are in Christ. I didn’t say tolerant. I didn’t say to ignore sin or allow yourself to be abused. But kindness should be evident in our dealings with others regardless of the situation. Our tender hearts should recognize pain, or grief, or anxiousness in others and encourage us to reach out to them. And certainly our lives should be lived in an attitude of forgiveness, knowing how much God has forgiven us.

Our world lacks kindness, as we witness in the news every day. Many people are too self centered to have tender hearts toward another. And too many times people allow unforgiveness to fester and grow into rage.

Let’s us, as God’s children, be the change we need in our world by allowing God’s kindness, God’s tenderheartedness, and His forgiveness to be evident in us, in Jesus’ name.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 4:30-32)

Hey! Don’t Take My Coat!

I had a slow drain in the tub of a mobile home I lived in for a while.  No matter what I tried, it would clog up regularly. So I started a new routine. Every Saturday morning I’d pour baking soda into that drain, then dump a cup of vinegar on it and watch it go to work. It fizzed, and popped, and bubbled while the chemicals reacted to one another. Then, I would pour some boiling water into the drain and listen for it to flow freely.

Solomon tells us, in Proverbs 25:20 that singing a happy song to someone who is sad is like pouring vinegar over baking soda. The reaction is anything but soothing. Telling someone to “cheer up” or to “get over it” doesn’t help a person who is mourning or depressed. In fact, it can cause more grief. It would be like doing your happy dance at a funeral.

Sometimes people need to be sad. And if I am overtly expressing my happiness without considering their feelings, I’m just being mean. Solomon says it’s like taking the coat away from someone standing in the middle of a snowstorm.

As a middle school counselor I learned that sometimes I needed to allow the person sitting in front of me to feel the feelings. Sadness. Anger. Confusion. I had to admit that I didn’t have all the answers, that any tidbit of advice I might throw out there could make matters worse. I learned to ask, even of eleven-year-olds, what it is they thought they needed. Did they want to talk about it? Or did they just want to sit next to me and cry? There would, undoubtedly, come a time when I would direct that person to finding solutions. But sometimes that didn’t happen for quite some time. They needed to feel the feelings first.

Life is hard. Everyone goes through difficult times. Grief is personal. Depression can be a disease. You wouldn’t tell someone to just “get over” cancer, would you?

God is telling me today to choose my words, my attitude toward the people in my life who are facing hardships. Sometimes well intended words are just mean, like exposing someone to freezing weather, or pouring vinegar over baking soda. I want to be sensitive to what it is they are going through at the moment, set myself aside, and allow them to grieve, or rant, or question.

Lord, forgive me when I’m so taken with good things in my life that I walk over someone who is hurting. I don’t do it intentionally. I don’t want to make anyone feel worse than they already feel. Help me to notice the hurt in someone’s eyes or in the sound of their voice. Give me the words to say that will soothe and encourage. Or help me to keep my mouth shut and just be present. More than anything, Lord, I pray that they will be drawn to you as a result of my caring about their feelings.

Not-So-Common Sense

The Proverbs are rich in common sense (or not-so-common these days). Today I read in chapter 16 where it says a whisper can destroy a friendship.

Why is it some people think they have to tell everything they think they know? Why do some stretch the truth or pass on an opinion as fact? Why is it some people are intent on stirring things up, living in drama every day? And how many friendships, even marriages, could be saved if we would learn to control our tongues? (Read what James has to say on that subject in chapter three of his book).

You might whisper the latest gossip into the ear of your closest friend, but once you do you have no control over where it goes from there. And you have no control over the hurt caused by your little whisper. The damage is already done.

It’s like the internet, social media. A hard lesson many people have had to learn is that anything posted can NEVER be completely erased. That picture will always be in cyber space, accessible to anyone. That email sent in private is not so private there on the server.

A whisper, a text, a post can destroy your relationships, can destroy lives. Are you ok with that? Are you willing to be a part of that?

It should be common sense to know that spreading gossip is destructive. It should be common sense to know that the less said, the better on most subjects, especially if the subject is really none of your business or the business of the person you are telling. But God knew we don’t always use the sense we have, common or not.

So he inspired men to write down some common rules of living. Like what I read today in Proverbs. Like what James had to say.

Next time you are tempted to pass on that juicy bit of information… zip it. Show a little not-so-common sense.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for our tongues. That amazing muscle helps us speak, taste, swallow, chew. It’s a pretty handy invention you have there. But God, may we be reminded the power we have in the use of our tongues. May we control them, whether tempted to whisper that gossip in the ear of a friend, or use our fingers to type out the words before we hit “send”. May the words of our mouths and the meditation of hearts be acceptable to you, Lord. And may we use our words to build up, encourage one another rather than be any part of tearing somebody down.

What to Wear?

As I read in Colossians today, Paul reminded me that as a Christian, everything I do I do as a representative of God. If I’m shopping, if I’m shoveling snow, if I attend the office Christmas party, speak to my neighbor, get my hair done, drive my car I represent my Savior.

The Apostle challenges me to take care as I get ready for the day. I may stand at my closet and pick out which shirt to wear, but I also need to clothe myself with, “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, …and above all love.” (3:12-15) I need to make allowances for other’s faults and forgive as God forgave me (as guilty and underserving as I was). Paul also tells me to live in peace and be thankful.

Getting ready in the morning is an act of will. I shower, dry my hair, put on makeup, and carefully choose clothes that match, and that hide those extra pounds I’m carrying. Reading Colossians today I am challenged to be as intentional about what else I put on, knowing I want to make a good impression.

After all, I represent my precious Jesus.

I am going to memorize Paul’s list of “What to Wear” and make it a matter of prayer each morning. I want to choose to be the woman God will be proud to have represent him as I allow him to clothe me, as I allow him to be seen in me.

Dear God, I ask that you will clothe me today with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love. May I make allowances for other’s faults and forgive as God forgave me, because we both know you have forgiven me a boatload of sin. I want to live in peace and show you how thankful I am for your many blessings. As I represent you today, may I do it wearing all these things. And may Jesus be seen in me.

Don’t Mistake Kindness

Psalm 86 may have been David’s prayer, but in many ways it’s mine, too. It’s a plea for God’s protection and forgiveness, for his help in times of trouble and for happiness. Who doesn’t want those things, right?

David speaks of God’s greatness, his love, compassion, and mercy. It’s a psalm that spoke to my heart today. And it reminded me of something my nephew said to me this week.

Ryan is a nice guy. He has a gentle spirit, he’s compassionate and kind. He loves the Lord and is burdened for anyone who needs the Savior. I’ve known him to befriend a homeless man in Jesus’ name. He’s encouraging, patient and tender. When I tell you his career choice it might surprise you.

He’s a sergeant in the US Army Reserves, did a tour in Iraq, and is a full time policeman in a tough inner-city. Recently he realized one of his long time dreams by becoming part of that city’s SWAT team.

Ryan was sharing about a problem he was having with a fellow officer in the police force. This younger, less experienced man was disrespectful and argumentative toward Ryan, making it very difficult to work with him. Ryan was patient. He made it a practice to compliment the young man when he did something well. But that didn’t seem to be making a difference in his attitude or behavior toward my nephew. 

One day, when this officer refused to cooperate, Ryan lost it. The two ended up in a loud argument in the parking lot of the police station. Needless to say, they ended up in their sergeant’s office and were told they had to work it out. Each of the men aired their differences in front of their boss.

Ryan said his co-worker has the makings of being a good cop. In fact, Ryan said he has strengths Ryan wishes he had himself. But he is inexperienced and has a lot to learn. He told the officer his tone of voice was condescending and disrespectful and that he didn’t want to continue to argue every time an order came through. Ryan said he was done accepting this behavior. Then he said, “Don’t mistake kindness for weakness.”

I thought of those words when I read Psalm 86 this morning. Verse 15 says:

But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

 

I praise God for the truth of those words. I’m so thankful for his compassion and mercy toward me. I depend on his unfailing love. But may I never mistake any of that for weakness.

This loving God is a fierce warrior. He hates – HATES – sin with a burning passion. And he will punish every sin ever committed. Not overlook it. Punish it.

His compassion doesn’t allow him to turn a blind eye to sin but it did send him to the cross to die for that sin. Once again, I am reminded God is first of all holy, holy, holy and he demands holiness of us. But because as sinners we can never be holy in and of ourselves, his compassion and mercy clothes us with his own. I am holy before him only because I accepted his holiness when I asked him to forgive me.

Yes God is love. Yes he is merciful and kind. But don’t ever mistake that for weakness.

God, I pray that your people will recognize you for who you are: holy, holy, holy. Forgive us if we would rather talk about your love for mankind and overlook that important fact. Your holiness cannot tolerate sin. Period. May we realize the significance of that fact and fall to our knees, repent of sin, and accept your forgiveness. You are kind and compassionate, slow to anger toward those of us who know you as our Savior. 

May 1

2 Samuel 23:8-12, I Chronicles 11:1-14, 2 Samuel 21:19-22, I Chronicles 20:5-8, 2 Samuel 10:1-19, I Chronicles 19:1-19, Psalm 33, 2 Samuel 11:1, I Chronicles 20:1a

David was just being kind. Some guy’s dad died so David sent some of his men to calling hours. Well, at least to express David’s sympathy and to show kindness to the grieving son.

But the son, along with his frat buddies, treated David’s men shamefully. I’m pretty sure they had quite a laugh at half-shaven faces and bare bottoms. That’s just mean.

Have you ever reached out to someone only to have that person laugh at you or humiliate you? Kindness is not always met with gratitude, is it?

Yet Jesus tells us to treat others the way we’d like to be treated. There are no “ifs” in that command. Jesus spent a lot of his short ministry telling us and showing us how important it is to treat each other with kindness.

There is no guarantee your kind deed will bring about good, however. The person to whom you show kindness may reject you, humiliate you, or repay you with evil. So why take the chance?

Because when you show kindness you have the privilege of being God’s hands, feet, and voice. Your kindness may be an avenue by which God wants to reveal himself to someone who needs him.

Why take the chance of humiliation?

Because God asks us to.