Several unrelated incidents have occurred in which a common thread or theme emerged.
God shares in Galatians 5:22-23 that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact the word fruit is not plural perhaps conveying that all of these working together is a must. If you have love then more than likely you are cultivating kindness.
God is a masterful counselor. If we allow Him to work in our lives, He can turn our weaknesses into strengths, suffering into compassion, sorrow into joy, and pain into comfort for others.
Suffering, depression, anxiety, job related stress, family problems does not give one permission to treat others unkind. The miracle of the ills of this world–the suffering–is that in our suffering, we have an amazing opportunity to be kind to others and comfort them. It is not wrong to be angry or sad in your situation. You may need support and guidance to heal. Yet, as you work towards healing, remember that IN your suffering, you have gifts to share. That is a mystery and a truth that words can’t describe. It’s a deeper level of soul work.
Who else but a person suffering from significant loss could bring comforting words to someone who just lost a loved one? Who else but someone who knows the depths of a thirsty soul can bring a cup of cold water (God’s living Word) to a weary soul.
No one is perfect, and we all have our moments of outbursts and lashing out in which we recognize and ask for forgiveness. I’m talking about a pervasive attitude of demanding your way, speaking your mind at the expense of other’s feelings, and a prideful spirit that maybe is a cover up for your fears or loss of control in a situation.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32
A soft answer turns away wrath says Proverbs 15:1. Look at that person in front of you and examine where they are and seek first to understand instead of being understood. Stand up to bullies who demand their way and are rude. God calls us to turn the other cheek, yes; but, Jesus himself used direct communication in the moment to challenge and confront. Turning the other cheek is a protection for your soul. It’s warning us to do whatever it takes to not harbor bitterness.
For example, when someone questioned my capability to handle a work related issue, I had a choice to be angry, ignore and harbor bitterness, or confront. “I’m more than capable of handling this situation and would enjoy the opportunity. Would that be okay with you, or would you like to work together on the task?” I then went forth in doing the task in confidence that God would direct my steps.
There are moments in which we call on Jesus to be our defender. His Word shares:
The LORD is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer. My God is my rock— I take refuge in him!— he’s my shield, my salvation’s strength, my place of safety. Psalm 18:2
I often ask the Lord to give me discernment in difficult situations. Lord, is this a time to wait and pray–let You handle, or should I speak up. I don’t always get it right.
The power of sincere kindness in the lives of others amazes me. One word spoken in a discouraging moment can bring healing. I’ve heard people share that because that person called me, spoke this word into my life, or showed kindness, I had the strength to move forward on a difficult decision.
Pray for God to send you kindness– a word spoken, an act of service, or a friend that calls and says, “I was thinking of you. Is everything okay?” I had a dear friend email me and risk sounding ridiculous. She knows that I don’t find this ridiculous, but she felt the Spirit tug at her soul to email me and check on me. Perfect timing. She had no idea the news I had just received, and how I needed a Word–God knew.
Be kind, seek opportunities to be ridiculous, ask yourself, “Would I want to hear that coming from someone’s mouth and directed toward me?”
Be open to someone sharing that they were offended by your words or actions and be willing to change.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1: 19
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out-of-place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
In Experiencing God Bible study a profound take away that has stuck with me for years is– wherever you are God is working. You are in Christ if you are believer, and His work is right in front of you. That coworker, sales clerk, child, husband, mail person, angry customer, and random person in your day are all potential clients of kindness. Go where God is working, and see His work around you. We don’t need to plan an act of kindness as much as we need to be present in the moment and kind to the person right in front of you.