This week, we pivot slightly in our series, Hope For Today towards kindness and compassion.
How did you do this week in offering kindness to someone who needed it or compassion to the hurting?
Sometimes we look at kindness and compassion as outward-facing to the world rather than inward to ourselves or our family. Other times we are so focused on meeting the world's needs that we lose sight of the needs right in our circle of influence.
The world has been rocked by events that are reshaping our society as we know it. The pandemic has brought physical and mental health concerns to the forefront of our thinking over the course of the past year.
Similarly, society is struggling to redefine its identity in a changing world.
In the United States, caring for the homeless has taken center stage along with other prominent issues – race, religion, equity, policing, and gender.
When we think about kindness and compassion, our hearts naturally go to the most visible parts of society that live on the fringes and think that we have to solve this problem first, and the rest will come into focus.
Before we dive into our scripture for today, let me ask you – do you think that kindness, compassion, and care exist in our current world?
Paul says in Ephesians 4:32,
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
This scripture does not excuse senseless murder and other societal items that we see in our world today; however, Paul asks us to start close to home – extremely close to home.
It’s easier for me to look at all the issues in society than to take a look at how I might be contributing to the societal impacts.
Let’s break this down.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another.”
Who am I supposed to be kind and compassionate towards? One another.
And who is my “one another”? Well, it’s pretty much anyone that is in your circle of influence – your parents, your kids, your friends, your boss, your colleagues, those who have wronged you, those whom you have wronged, and the list continues.
You might be thinking…that’s a pretty big list. Yep – it’s a big list. When we start close to home with care, kindness, love, and compassion – it becomes part of the butterfly effect or ripple effect.
The butterfly or ripple effect states that one small action done will have a larger effect on something else, and you may not see the impact of that effect in your lifetime.
Last week, I shared the story of a bedridden woman in Russia who kept a prayer and praise journal. Her prayers have had a ripple effect for generations to come. She prays for the advancement of the gospel in Russia and around the globe. She prays for healing for those around her. These prayers multiply and touch the lives of people she has met and not met.
When we show love, compassion, kindness, and care to those in our circles, we extend this butterfly effect to each person they meet and the people they meet, and extension becomes exponential.
Let’s explore the second and third parts of this verse,
“forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Okay, now Paul has gone to meddling. You want me to forgive those who have hurt me and wronged me.
Yes, that is what Paul is saying. But Dave, you don’t understand the hurt I have experienced.
You are right, I don’t know your story, and I am not saying you have to forgive them right away. Forgiveness is a process and action. Paul was telling the church in Ephesus to forgive fellow believers when we wrong each other.
The act of forgiveness extends beyond the walls of the church and into our workplaces, our relationships, our marriages, and our families. Much of the hurt we are experiencing today is because we have not learned to forgive others.
As we saw on Good Friday, Christ’s death on a cross paved the way for you and me to have eternal life by forgiving our sins. Just as Christ forgave us, we should forgive others. Now, we do not have the power to forgive sins as Jesus does, but we do have the power to forgive the mistakes of others and rebuild trust.
It won’t be easy, and it may not be quick, but if we are going to change society, we have to start with ourselves.
Change starts with us, and believers make plenty of mistakes – I am a living, breathing testimony, but the writer of Ephesians challenges us to be different.
He wants us to live a life that exudes kindness and compassion. My challenge for you this week is to start small.
Today, as you go about your day, let the words of Ephesians 4:32 sink into your soul. If someone rubs you the wrong way, give them an extra amount of grace. Forgive them and give them your kindness, and in return (hopefully), they will give it to you as well.
You never know how your simple act of kindness, forgiveness, care, compassion, or listening may change the course of their day, week, month, or even life. It starts with us. It starts one person and one moment at a time.
Christ came for you and me. He forgave all of us at the cross, but we have to accept that act of love and forgiveness from Him.
Lord, thank you for today. Thank you for using us to be salt and light in our world. Please give us an extra amount of grace and compassion for those with whom we interact. Thank you for using me to make a difference in someone's life today. Amen!
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