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by LaBreeska Hemphill
Joel and I have a favorite saying: “Love makes the world go around, but kindness greases the wheels.”
In my years of dealing with people I have found there is basic kindness in most. Call me naive but on the whole I believe people are cordial, at least they have been with me. Maybe it’s because when I meet folks I do so with that assumption: I take them at face value. But I, like most everyone else, have also encountered some very unkind individuals along the way. Whenever I do come across a person that isn’t affable and kind then I begin to wonder what their problem is. Jesus said:
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
Then Paul tells us that:
“Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil...” (I Cor. 13:4-5).
Sometimes well-meaning, sincere Christians get caught up with a wrong attitude and become zealous in a way that they tear-down rather than build the Kingdom of God. This isn’t a new problem. It happened with Jesus’ own disciples and he had to rebuke them and remind them of what his mission was all about. James and John were incensed when the Samaritans wouldn’t receive Jesus when they were passing through on the way to Jerusalem. They took the rejection personal and were ready to kill them!
“And when his disciples, James and John, saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did? But he turned and rebuked them, and said, ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of; For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:54-56).
None of us are exempt from getting caught up in the wrong spirit from time to time. That is why it is so important for us, as followers of Christ, to stop on occasion and examine ourselves, our actions and our motives. We need to ask ourselves if we are being truly Christ-like or are we just being religious. There is a vast difference. Notice how our savior dealt with the mean-spirited religious sects of his day.
“And one of the Pharisees desired [Jesus] that he would eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat” (Luke 7:36).
This verse shows Jesus’ willingness to give Simon every opportunity to be kind and hospitable. As it turned out the Pharisee just wanted a closer look at him so he could size him up and further judge him. Notice in verse 40 how Jesus continued to try to lead Simon to understand God’s forgiveness when true repentance is shown.
Jesus was compassionate. When he looked at the multitudes he saw lost humanity in a dying condition and it moved him to tears. That is the Christian way. That is love personified. On the other hand there is the religious spirit. Jesus came face to face with that spirit throughout his ministry. The religious spirit is the greatest enemy of Christianity. Whenever a Christian stands up to proclaim the truth of God’s word, to shed light on darkened minds, he isn’t accosted by the world in general as much as he is by the religious world. The New Testament is full of such examples. Jesus didn’t come to destroy the law of God but he had a hard time persuading those who thought they had God in a box all to themselves.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall in no way pass from the law, till all he fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-18).
Jesus came to shed light on what they already knew. The poor and the needy received his words gladly. They were starving for the words of eternal life, so much so that they left everything and followed him. Multitudes walked for miles in the heat and cold without creature comforts, even food, just to hear more, but that didn’t set well with the high and lofty religious leaders of the day. They were envious of him. He was doing what they couldn’t do and was a threat to their prestige and power over the people.
When Jesus went to the synagogues on the Sabbath days, that is where he found many of the poor who were infirmed, maimed, and in need. In Matthew Chapter 12 we read:
“...he went into their Synagogue and behold there was a man who had his hand paralyzed and they asked him, saying, is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days? That they might accuse him.”
Jesus answered them with a question as he often did:
“What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much, then, is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath days.”