Reading: Ephesians 4:32
The first recorded instance of Thanksgiving happened when the Pilgrims came to America. It occurred after the first successful harvest. Today, Thanksgiving is commonly thought of as a day to give thanks for the previous year(s). It is thought of as a day to show God how much we care about Him by thanking Him for everything that He has given us. It is a day to be completely, utterly, 100% thankful for everything we have. We should be completely grateful on this day for what we have, and we should take that gratefulness with us into the rest of our year.
Kindness? What exactly is it?
Being kind, as defined by the third definition according to Merriam-webster.com, is “[a] fundamental nature or quality.” What does this mean? At its’ essence, it is something that is in each of us from birth. Think about it. Kindness is something that we all extend towards others, sometimes seemingly unintentionally. Maybe you decide to help an older woman carry her groceries into her house. Or maybe you find yourself teaching a young kid from your neighborhood how to shoot a basketball or throw a football. I believe that kindness is one of the most overlooked and underrated acts that someone can perform.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” Ephesians 4:32 ESV. Why would Paul write this if kindness is such a natural, human feeling? Forgiveness is an amazing thing. The ultimate example is what Jesus did on the cross for us. He took all of the blame and all of the shame for everything that we should have experienced. Forgiveness is the single most difficult thing for non-believers to get a grasp on. The natural human reaction to someone wronging us is to get even, it’s to get revenge. Forgiveness is not usually the first response.
A Lesson in Forgiveness or Kindness?
This brings to mind the story of a tragedy that occurred in an Amish community several years ago. A delivery man who had had pretty constant contact with the community entered into the school house and shot and killed several children before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide. Within hours, the leaders of the community (some of whom had had children who had been killed) appeared at the gunman’s house to comfort the family. This reaction absolutely blew several people’s minds! That an entire community who had just endured a tragedy that tore the very fabric of the human soul apart, would go and comfort the widow of the gunman, is not something to be taken lightly. They had every right to be mad, to be upset, and to lash out in anger. But instead, they extended the hand of forgiveness to another grieving family. It is the closest thing that we have to Jesus in understanding forgiveness.
Bringing It All Together
In Ephesians 4:32, Paul implies that kindness and forgiveness go hand in hand. Take a moment to let that sink in. True kindness is in effect all the time. What the Amish community did for the gunman’s widow was phenomenal. It was completely unexpected. They were able to use the power of the Holy Spirit to model Jesus’s example of what God has said that forgiveness is all about. Kindness is what the Amish community showed. Kindness, hand-in-hand with forgiveness, is the most healing power in the entire universe. God’s gift of Jesus, Jesus’s gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit’s power to enable us to forgive and show kindness is truly something to be grateful for this holiday season.
Pray for those who have the difficult decision to show whether or not they will let the Holy Spirit to work through them or not. Pray for those who are in need of forgiveness and those who will need the strength to forgive. Pray for the unbelievers who will forever be changed by the power of receiving or witnessing forgiveness.