Monday, April 8, 2019

Episode Extra: What if people aren't kind back?

"That kindness stuff is all well and good," you might say, "but I was kind to [name of person redacted] and [she or he] was just a jerk to me! This kindness stuff just doesn't work at all!" Trust me, I've had the same thing happen to me before. Sometimes it doesn't seem like we are rewarded with the proper gratitude for our kindness. It's especially hard to swallow that kind of treatment when your kindness requires a sacrifice on your part!

But you know, the response of the person receiving your kindness is not the point here. Often when you exercise the Fruit of the Spirit, a change happens in the world around you (someone feels loved, someone benefits from your kind act, your patience results in a better thought-out response to something that helps everybody). But every time you exercise the Fruit of the Spirit, a change happens inside of you. When someone reacts negatively to your positive act, you have a choice. You can either respond in kind and lose the benefit you received from your spiritual action and sacrifice, or you can respond again with the same kindness (or with patience or peace or whatever the situation requires) and keep it, and maybe receive even more benefit. We don't live in the Fruit of the Spirit because we want a benefit, but the benefit is there... if you don't lose it for yourself!

Of course, in life in the Spirit, things always come back to the example of Jesus. Any of us would be hard-pressed to out-kind Him, the man who prayed for his executioners as they were killing Him. Soldiers were basically rolling dice at the base of His cross as He was dying to decide who would get His nice outfit when He was dead, and Jesus said to God, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (You can read it yourself in Luke 23:34.) Jesus had done nothing in his time on Earth but love, heal, feed, and teach people (well, except for corrupt religious leaders, but these soldiers weren't them) and His kindness was rewarded with crucifixion. And yet He responded once again with kindness and forgiveness. If that's not a positive reaction to a negative reaction to a positive act, I don't know what is!

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