“In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.” (Isa. 54:8)
Bombarded day by day and hour by hour by images of anarchy, rebellion, rioting and ruthlessness, triggered by a Memorial Day image of police brutality in Minneapolis, God’s Word about our response to those who offend us has to come to mind as we try to gauge and guard our attitude about what we are seeing and hearing in this current culture disintegration where what were billed as “peaceful protests” against racism have too often devolved into lawless and criminal outbreaks of violence and the worst displays of the depravity of humankind.
Kindness. It’s has become an almost Victorian character trait; not that it is not seen or seeable, but that often all that is focused upon in our current national dilemma is the worst of that which is diametrically opposite of kindness. Refreshing is the story about kind deeds of caring people. And, probably people who practice kindness far outnumber those who do not, but the latter usually makes the nightly news and if, on occasion, a kind act is highlighted, it is an after -thought and not what is the attention grabber part of our daily digest of that which is noteworthy.
But, God has so much to say about this Christ-like commodity. “Put on…bowels of mercy, kindness; Be kindly affectioned one to another;” Paul admonishes (Col.3:12; Rom. 12:10). As in the Isaiah text quoted above, God is set forth always as a God known for His everlasting kindness. In the same context God assured His beloved covenant people that “the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee….” (Isa. 54:10).
Jonah knew of God’s kind character and said that it was that quality of God’s nature that motivated him at first not to take the message of pending judgment to the wicked Assyrian city of Nineveh because “I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that Thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness….” (Jonah 4:2). Naomi, having been in the country of Moab where she suffered the death of her husband and two sons, returning with only a daughter-in-law, Ruth, came back to her homeland bewailing her plight with “I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty;“ (Ruth 1:21) in a few days would change her mournful song to “Blessed be he of the Lord, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead,” (Ruth 2:20) acknowledging that the goodness of Boaz in his kind treatment of Naomi was of the Lord. Paul reminds Titus in his New Testament epistle to his pastor friend that the kindness of God had appeared to all men (Tit.3:4) and in writing to the church at Ephesus the Apostle said that God would spend eternity shewing His saints the “exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7).
David, Israel’s second king, promised his “soul mate” Jonathan, Saul’s son, that he would never forget to shew kindness to Saul and his house (I Sam. 20:14,15); twenty three years later, after King Saul and his son Jonathan had died in battle, David, established firmly on his throne by then, asked “Is there not any in the house of Saul that I might shew kindness to him?” (2 Sam. 9:3). David had experienced incalculable grief because of Saul’s wicked jealousy, but he had pledged himself to kindness. That can only come though people whose hearts have been changed by the one whose “merciful kindness is great….” (Ps. 117:2). Isn’t it what is need now? The conduct of kindness by the grace of God; let us who name His name shew it freely and frequently.
“The desire of a man is his kindness and a poor man is better than a liar.” (Proverbs 19:22)
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