Another instruction we are given about how to get along with one another is to be kind to one another.
Eph. 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Paul starts by describing the way things SHOULDN’T be. Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice don’t belong in God’s church. Church should not be a place where everyone is fighting all the time. Unfortunately, most churches are made up of humans rather than angels. Most of us have seen the tension that sometimes exists whenever two ‘brothers’ are in the same room. Many of us have experienced or at least heard of the viciousness that often occurs in business meetings or even in elder’s meetings. What can we do about this? The first answer is that if everyone is dedicating themselves to serving their brethren and being in subjection to them (the subject of the last post) then fighting will rarely occur. The second answer is even more simple: be kind to each other.
Kindness needs no great definition. It just means doing good. Paul joins kindness with being tenderhearted. This carries with it the twin ideas of being compassionate and merciful. So, if you see your brother in need, you should want to help him out and if your brother has been offensive, your first inclination should be to overlook his fault, rather than pounding on him. That pairs quite well with the next thing mentioned, forgiving one another. Christians don’t hold grudges. Especially not against other Christians. To sum up, Paul says to do good for your brothers, look to help them out, show mercy and forgive when they are wrong.
There is more on this general topic in 1 Thess. 5:15 “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” Again, there is no place for vengeance or grudges in the Church. We are to forgive and love and be kind/do good. The point of interest to me in this passage is it doesn’t just say to do good, but to SEEK to do good. We aren’t to just take advantage of opportunities that might pop up, we are to actively look for chances to do good for our brethren. Much like Heb. 10:24-25 says we are to consider one another to figure out how to stir each other up to love and good works, exhorting one another, Paul tells the Thessalonians to seek ways to do good. I should always ask myself, “What does my brother need from me?”
Christianity is far more than showing up for church services and Bible study a few times a week.
How can I show kindness to my brothers and sisters? Peter tells us one way. 1 Pet. 4:9 “using hospitality one to another without murmuring”. Hospitality is not just having people over for dinner. In the days before hotels at every interstate exit, travelers were taken in and cared for by the people of the town. Often without any prior introduction. Hospitality was considered an honor and one of the highest virtues. Remember how Abraham hustled to prepare a meal for the traveling ‘men’ he saw walking in his direction and begged them for the honor of providing for them (Gen. 18)? Rarely do we get the chance to show this type of hospitality anymore. Travelers have reservations waiting for them. We can, however, be welcoming to any visitors that join us to worship. We can greet them, introduce them to our towns, answer any questions they may have, and generally make them feel like they’ve discovered a home away from home. Almost everybody has a story of an unfriendly church they encountered while traveling. We don’t want that story to be of us. And if we ever encounter people who have been stranded, we should be among the first to offer them assistance.
Another bit of kindness I can show is found in Romans 12:10 “In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another.” We are to prefer one another. The word for “in honor” is also translated precious or price. We are to esteem our brethren as precious and put them first in our lives. Their needs come before the needs of worldly acquaintances. My free time is spent with them, instead of in the world. I send business their way. In every way socially, in business, in help given, in all ways, my brothers come first. In subjecting myself to them (last post) I put them before even myself.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”