Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. ~ Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)
I think that was one of the first verses I learned as a child. It was one I heard often anyway. Coming from Mom it was usually shortened to "Be kind." And the crazy thing, I find as an adult it's one of those passages that is so simple but so hard to live out.
That person who always rubs me the wrong way? Kindness and tenderness would look at their crazy work schedule, their health issues, the family stuff they're facing. Kindness and tenderness wouldn't focus on me and my thoughts about them, but that person and their needs. Kindness and tenderness would listen and not paste on the fake smile.
Forgiving...on behalf of someone else and when it's not deserved. Forgiveness is one thing. It can be a struggle even when someone apologizes and asks for it. But that's not a condition here. This forgiveness is extended even when the person isn't seeking it. We certainly didn't do anything to earn Christ's forgiveness, but He still offered it even when we weren't looking for it. And it's because of what Christ did that God forgives us. So when a person says something mean or lets us down or intentionally hurts...we forgive...because we've been on the receiving end of forgiveness.
I find it interesting that this verse comes AFTER verses about our speech and the attitudes that cause our speech. No "corrupt communication", only things that encourage and build others up. Get rid of bitterness and anger and hatred and resentment and bad mouthing others...and then, on top of that, be kind and tender toward others.
My high school Sunday school teacher used to say the older he got the more he realized just how much of a sinner he was. I thought that was the craziest thing I had ever heard. But now? I get it. I so totally get it. The more I live my life, the more I realize how corrupt my thought process and speech can truly be.
And I think that kindness, like health stuff, must be practiced on a regular basis to truly be effective. I can't walk once a month and expect to lose weight or be fit. I can't practice kindness only when it's convenient and then expect it to automatically happen on a tough day.
So that's some of the many stuff that's been rumbling around in my head the last few weeks. Hopefully I'll have time to update on other things tomorrow.