“We have to build our capacity to do good to people; after all, the love of God is all about being good to others. Practise kindness and gentleness, and it will get easier.”
We often forget how a kind gesture or a gentle word can communicate God’s love for humanity in our rough and tumble world. Esther Williams reminds us how to do so.
I remember once overhearing two people talking about me. I didn’t really know them, but from a distance they had managed to form an opinion of me and – if I’m honest – I was quite upset. Now, neither of them knew I had heard the conversation, and a few months later one of them suddenly decided that I was the best thing since sliced bread, and was falling over themselves to be nice to me. My first instinct was to give them a wide berth, smile, say “Hello” and keep walking, but God used this experience to expose the fruit in my life – and it wasn’t the fruit of the Spirit.
As Christians, it is unacceptable to only demonstrate kindness and love to the people that show loving-kindness to us. It is not good enough to just be nice to our friends, and sideline the people whom we feel don’t fit with us. It is important to remember that we are accountable for the way we treat people – not the way people treat us.
I wanted to change. I prayed about the situation. I didn’t dislike the person, but I was finding being kind to her challenging after what I had heard. I found this Scripture in Philippians 4:5, ‘Let your gentleness be known to all men; the Lord is at hand.’ I pray that prayer every day now, and I do believe God has used it to soften my heart. Galatians 5:22 says, ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, self-control. Against such, there is no law.’
It is crucial that we hide the Word of God in our hearts, otherwise living out our faith on a day-to-day basis is just going to be tough, and we will get tired. If you’re going on a long drive and there is no fuel in the car, eventually that car will break down. You can pray over it all you like, but the fact of the matter is – you were unprepared.
Disappointments are always going to come, and some people will always have something negative to say. The affairs of life are constant and persistent in our lives, therefore we must prepare ourselves with the Word, which is the only way we can ensure that our response to trials will demonstrate a life that has been transformed through a relationship with our loving Heavenly Father.
Jesus shed His perfect blood for us, so that we might find it in our hearts to love people. And when we fail Him – and the price He paid for us somehow manages to slip our minds – He still loves us; He doesn’t give us a wide berth! Actually, what happens is the more we sin, the more we distance ourselves from Him, but He will always lovingly welcome us back into His presence.
We have to build our capacity to do good to people; after all, the love of God is all about being good to others. Practise kindness and gentleness, and it will get easier. Don’t sit next to the same people in church all the time; find at least one new person every month in your church to be kind to. Don’t go to lunch with the same people at work every day; purposefully have lunch with someone new. Send group texts to people in the middle of the week, encouraging them. Appreciate the people in your world; God will guide you if you have a heart to change, and will lead you to the right people. These are easy, practical things to do that will help you to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in your life.
2 Timothy 2:23-25 says, ‘The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him, he must gently instruct.’ Titus 3:1-2 says, ‘Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities; to be obedient; to be ready to do whatever is good; to slander no one; to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.’ An act of kindness can have immense power to turn someone to Christ; we have no idea sometimes why people do what they do. It has often been said that hurt people, hurt people. I would hate to miss the opportunity to bring healing to someone and bring them closer to God, because I was offended.
So let’s all try to be nicer, and let our gentleness be known to all, as we step into the second quarter of this year. God bless you.
You can follow Esther Williams on twitter @mew36