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The Case for Kindness

I was driving down the interstate and carefully shifted into the outer lane in order to pass the slower moving cars. I was going 70-mph in the 60-mph zone. Suddenly a car appeared behind me. He was right on top of me! It startled me, and I said aloud, “Where did you come from?”  He did not answer. Looking in my rear-view mirror, I saw the driver throw both of his hands in the air in exasperation. In the middle lane to the right of me was a car, so there was nowhere for me to get out of his way. He blinked his lights at me. I threw my hands in the air and said aloud, “Where do you want me to go?” He did not answer.

     I was already going as fast as I wanted so I did not speed up, but honestly, I began to enjoy impeding this speedster. The driver blinked his lights again. I raised my hands again and then I motioned for him to calm down as I spoke aloud, “Calm down!” But his answer was to throw his hands in the air again. This was how we rode for a few minutes. Finally, the lane next to me opened up and I moved over. As he whizzed up beside me, he gave me a furious glare and then sped away.

     I noted that he was driving a Dodge Charger and watched him race down the interstate. Soon he was stuck behind another “slow” driver. I smiled and thought how great it would be to catch up to him. The old tortoise and hare story. But he soon disappeared out of my sight. Oh well.

     A few miles later, I came to my exit and as I drove the ramp, there he was! Pulled over by a Highway Patrolman! I slowed down a little more and as I passed by him, I smugly smiled and waved.

     And that, my friends, is the perfect example of rejoicing at wrongdoing, which is the opposite of Paul’s definition of love. You remember. He said, love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing.”1 Of course, you might be thinking that I was justified to rejoice at this wrong doing, and I would be quick to agree with you. After all, the driver was unnecessarily rude to me.  And he was driving dangerously. And he deserved a ticket. I had every right to rejoice when I saw he was caught. And yet . . . Paul says, love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing.”

     So, how do I resolve this in my heart? What would Jesus do? Jesus walked toward the woman caught in adultery and told her that he did not condemn her and reassured her with these words: “from now on sin no more.”2  This is the proper response. It acknowledges the sin and encourages the sinner. There is no vengeance (like impeding the driver’s speed), no cynical remark (like “Where do you want me to go?”), no insensitive motions (like throwing up my hands), and no condescending gesture (like waving and smiling as the driver was being ticketed).

     The world is quick to “rejoice at wrongdoing.” But what does God require of us? “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord requires of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”3

     What strikes me about the verse is the phrase “to love kindness.” What would it look like to actually love kindness? To look for occasions to be kind, to search for people who need kindness, to act kindly to those who do not deserve it. Kindness is always unexpected, undeserved, and unnecessary, which makes it a powerful weapon, an unforgettable experience, and even perhaps a life-changing event.

     Paul also wrote, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”4  Another good reason to be kind.

11 Corinthians 13:6   2John 8:11   3Micah 6:8   4Ephesians 4:32

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