Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:9-21
Has this ever happened to you...
You have a fight with someone, or are angry with them...or maybe you were mean to them for some reason. Maybe for a moment it felt great to cut them down with a snarky remark or put down.
And then they said something nice to you as their response. Or told you they'd listen to you with an ear for understanding. Or they apologized when you didn't expect it, or even when you knew it was actually you who were wrong.
How'd that feel?
It made me feel small. It made me feel ashamed. It made me feel so very sorry.
And it took all the anger, snarkiness, and mean words out of me.
Kindness has a way of doing that. And here, the Apostle Paul gives some pretty concrete examples of how to be that kind - that compassionate.
Is there something making you mad right now? Or someone? A neighbor? A relative you disagree with about politics? Someone who is handling the pandemic in a way you think is wrong?
What would happen if you simply were kind to them despite being angry? What if you listened to their point of view and gave them the benefit of the doubt? How might that bring the temperature down in the room?
Might that kindness then not spread back toward you as well?
Holy God, move me toward justice, mercy, and humility in all my dealings with your people. Amen