Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. —Job 6:14
There is no more devastating experience than to receive condemnation instead of comfort when you present your trials to a friend. The Church has done more damage to the name of Christ, who is the ultimate Comforter, by propagating the “you get what you deserve” mindset. We drive people away from God when we, as Jesus said, point out the splinters in their eye when the log is sticking out of our own.
Over and over again in Scripture, the idea Job’s friend came to proclaim – that Job was getting what he deserved – is rebuked. It is so easy to get caught up in being religiously right, so much so that we hurt the very people Jesus came to save. It is easy to let showing our love turn into telling them how they are wrong.
What always opens my eyes to how I get caught up in that mindset is when I read about how Jesus reserved His harshest judgment for those judgmental people in the religious elite. He told them they shackled the poor with burdens that could not be carried. We do the same when we act “right” instead of out of grace.
It’s time to remember how we should be living. The prophet Zechariah put it this way: This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another (7:9). The prophet Micah put it this way: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (6:8).
Jesus remains the truest friend of the hurting. His mission, as stated in Luke 4 included healing and freedom. When someone we know is struggling (whether we agree with their choices or not) that’s the message they need to hear. Our world needs to see His words from Mark 2:17 in action:
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
We are on the brink of revival, possibly nationally and globally, but we have to get over the fear of what we don’t know or agree with. We have to welcome those different from us, for no other reason than we were once different and Christ welcomed us in. Whether they are gay, straight, white, black, tattooed, single, divorced, married, broken or seemingly whole: our job is to show them love over our opinions of how they live.
I have not always done this well. In fact, there are people in my life who would tell you I’ve done it very badly.
But what I know now is that Jesus loves me in spite of who I once was (and sometimes still am). He gives me the freedom to love in ways that would be impossible without Him – and I’m learning to walk in those ways. I want to be an agent of peace, hope and joy, not one of self-righteousness. Kindness is the best medicine to a world full of hurting people. Grace is the blanket we can throw over those shivering in the darkness. Gentleness can be on our lips even when we don’t agree – especially when we don’t agree with others.
Nothing changes the world quite like love. No amount of being right or forcing our beliefs will ever change a heart. Living as Christ did, though, will change others in ways that last for eternity.
Will you join me in trying to live like our Savior today?
Heavenly Father – There are so many opportunities to prove how I’m right, but today, I want to live like Your Son did. I want to prove the love You have for each person. I want to show that love, being light and salt to the Earth. Please help me to overcome my fear of what I don’t know, understand or agree with and reach out to the lost. Help me to show them grace, mercy and kindness – the way Your Son did. Let them see You in Me and in His Name I pray, Amen.