Where Does Kindness Start?

Sometimes a caricature of the Old Testament is drawn, in which people paint a picture of God (or God’s people) only being interested in judgment and punishment.

Yesterday I wrote about kindness being a hallmark of the very first New Testament church in Jerusalem.

So today, it really stood out for me that David, the “man after God’s own heart,” also is portrayed as having a strong predisposition toward acts of kindness.

First of all, he wants to take care of Saul’s descendants. A son of Jonathan named Mephibosheth is identified and David takes him into the palace and cares for him.

“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?'” (2 Samuel 9:1, NIV).

Then a little later, David seeks another opportunity to show kindness when one of his allies dies, and he wants to show kindness to his son, the new king. This story does not end well, and shows that kindness is not always rewarded with kindness in return. I’ll let that hang right there. Read 2 Samuel 10 and you’ll see what I mean.

“David thought, ‘I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.’ So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father” (2 Samuel 10:2, NIV).

Sandwiched between these two stories is this statement, which shows David’s true motivation for kindness. He wanted to show others the kindness that had first been shown to him by God!

“The king asked, ‘Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?'” (2 Samuel 9:3, NIV).

So, if you study these three passages carefully, you’ll see that kindness can start with another person first being kind to you. But the true place kindness starts is with God. His kindness is the best, most powerful kindness, because it encompasses the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ.

And Jesus is the greatest kindness that any of us will ever experience!

Our Bible reading for June 6, 2015 is 2 Samuel 9:1 – 10:19, Acts 3:1-26 and Psalm 70:1-5.

Lord, thank you for your kindness, displayed in the gift of your Son, Jesus. But your kindnesses are truly many! I experience them every day. I am so grateful. In gratitude, help me not just receive your kindnesses, but also, as David did, look for others to whom I can show your kindness.

Header image based on "Mark Twain Kindness is a language..." by BK, CC By-SA 2.0

What Church Can Look Like

Church comes in for some pretty tough criticism at times. And to an extent, it’s probably understandable. The hard knocks and the accusations are not always without some basis in the facts.

But church can be beautiful. Very beautiful.

Luke gives us a peek into the life of the very first church that sprang into existence in Jerusalem after the day of Pentecost. It was shortly after the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the apostles.

What this church looked like should seem somewhat familiar to us. That’s because it’s not very different — if at all — from what love looks like.

By which I mean loving God with all your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength. And loving your neighbor as you love yourself.

Rooted in the gospel, touched deeply by the grace of God displayed in Christ, and moved to action by the power of the resurrection, these Christians spoke the language of kindness to one another.

And kindness is a language the whole world can understand.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Friday, June 5, is 2 Samuel 7: 1 – 8:18, Acts 2:22-47 and Proverbs 14:5-14.

Lord, help me by your Holy Spirit’s power to make church a place that personifies love. Fill my church with the love of Christ and the wisdom and grace of the Holy Spirit. Make me a force of kindness in my own church, to bring about in the 21st century what believers in the 1st century brought about — moved by Christ’s love and the Spirit’s power.

Header image based on "Seeking Human Kindness" by Enver Rahmanov, CC by-SA 3.0