We’ve all heard about occurrences of kindness in strangers. The person in the drive-through at Starbucks pays the person’s tab behind him, and sets off a chain reaction of two hundred customers who keep the kindness going. We get a warm feeling as we read about a patron in a diner who leaves a struggling server a monumental gratuity. Our heartstrings are stirred at a picture of a helpless puppy abandoned by thoughtless owners, and later learn it’s adopted by a loving family. We comment that “there are still kind people in the world” and hum a phrase of “What a Wonderful World”, contemplating how we can “pay it forward” as we drive down the freeway…until someone cuts us off. Suddenly, our warm thoughts of kindness are drowned in the blaring of our own horns. Our generosity disappears into indignation at the stranger ahead. We step on the accelerator and whiz past the offender at the first opportunity, glaring as we pass.
Our kindness as humans is often based on how worthy of our magnanimity we deem the recipient. Let one person choose stop paying for the person in line behind, and see how quickly he is castigated as a cheapskate. But having an opportunity to demonstrate kindness to someone who has cheated us out of a job, or lied about us, or even just unknowingly hurt our feelings is different. How difficult then is it to summon those warm feelings? Do we unknowingly ascribe to God the limited attributes of charity we know so clearly about ourselves?
The character of God is summarized in 1 John 4:8b: “God is love”. The essence of our Heavenly Father is perfect love. In Jeremiah 31:3, we are told: “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.’” Notice that God doesn’t herd us. He has “drawn” us with “unfailing kindness.” Romans 2:4b reads, “…God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.”
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3:3-5)
Above Titus reminds us of exactly what we were, but God didn’t save us because of any goodness or merit, or even ‘cuteness’, on our part. Rather, “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”. (Romans 5:8) God’s expression of ultimate kindness is the gift of His Son, and the very faith we need to accept that gift is supplied by His grace. He paid it forward forever!
About the Writer:
Nan Haines is so grateful to belong to God’s people. She loves getting to know all kinds of people and enjoys discovering new places, which is a good thing since she’s moved twenty five times. She has been married to Jim, a pastor, for 34 years, and together they have four grown kids, a son in love, and three grand puppies.