Learning to Show Kindness Like Jesus Did: In Deed and In Truth
Imagine. You see a swimmer struggling for life out on the ocean. They have gotten caught in a riptide and have been taken out to sea. Soon, you see massive sharks circling this poor swimmer and you know that if something is not done, this swimmer will surely die. If the sharks decide to spare this swimmer, it is likely the exhaustion from staying afloat will surely drown them.
Here is the thing: You are out on the ocean in a boat. You are nearby. You are safe. You are close enough to save this poor swimmer. You are pretty protected from the sharks and you are this swimmer's last hope.
What do you do?
- Do you ignore the struggling swimmer?
- Do you pull your boat closer so that they can hear you lecture them about the dangers of sharks and riptides?
- Do you pull your boat around to tell them to be safe as you drive off towards land?
- Would you race towards the swimmer to pluck them from the brink of certain death?
You have the option of being a modern-day superhero to someone who needs it. You have the chance at making your own "Faith in Humanity Restored" story that will have people marveling and applauding your heroic deed. You have a chance to act out of selflessness, without regards to your own personal safety, to ensure someone else's second chance at life. You have the opportunity to show extreme kindness in a situation that demands it.
How amazing is that? What an opportunity! Would you take it?
Read Matthew 4:23-24 and 1 John 3:16-24
In Matthew 4, we come into the Gospel story where Jesus first begins His ministry. His first act is choosing His disciples. He invites them along with the famous invitation that He extends to all of us, "follow me." With His second act, He begins healing every disease and affliction. He frees people from sickness and from the oppression of the enemy. I do not think that either of these actions is to be taken lightly.
First, He calls His disciples. He wants all of us to notice what He is doing because we are called to be like Christ. We are called to imitate Jesus as we interact with the world. Watch closely. What is Jesus doing?
Second, He shows His disciples (and all of us) who those struggling swimmers are. Those struggling swimmers are ALL OF HUMANITY. We are all in need of hope. We are all in need of kindness. We are all in need of Jesus.
Jesus proceeds to heal and free the masses. He has the means to bring hope, healing, and salvation to people's lives and He gives it away freely. He selflessly gave. He selflessly sacrificed. He selflessly served the purpose laid out by the Father. He selflessly hung on the cross for our freedom and our salvation. If that is not extreme kindness, I do not know what is!
If Jesus spent so much of His ministry conveying God's love for each individual, are we doing the same?
If Jesus spent so much of His ministry doing the exact thing He preached about, are we doing the same?
If Jesus acted out of love and kindness towards everyone, without exception, are we doing the same?
Jesus shows us who the struggling swimmers are in our life. The struggling swimmers are our neighbors.
We are called to be like Jesus. We are called to do what He did. To behave in the way the He did. We are called to love our neighbors and to treat them in the same way we want to be treated.
Now imagine: If you were the swimmer struggling in the ocean, would you want someone to treat you with extreme kindness? Would you want someone to set aside their own schedule and obligations to ensure that you got to safety?
Whether or not we extend our hand in kindness, proves whether or not we are true servants of God.
Extending our hand in kindness is to give freely of our own means. If we see a brother or sister struggling, it means doing what we can to lighten the load. Extending our hand in kindness goes beyond simply wishing someone well or saying "I'll pray for you." Do not just give words, but let your actions speak along with your words.
Do not be the person on the boat who tells the struggling swimmer to be safe. Be the person on the boat who selflessly reaches into the shark-infested waters to rescue the struggling swimmer.