The Psalmist penned God’s character in the same words twice in Psalm 59:10, 17 “God is my defence.” This has the idea of a constant protection. Another way to communicate this Hebrew idea in English is this: “God, on whom I can rely.” Aren’t you glad that you can rely on God’s kindness and protection? And shouldn’t that kindness motivate us to demonstrate kindness to those around us? You probably can’t show it the same way David did, but you can lovingly communicate truth to those around you, seek reconciliation with your brother’s and sisters in Christ, and forgive in a small likeness to how God has forgiven you. What will kindness look like in your life today?
I have a confession to make. When I see videos of extreme kindness that float around the internet from time to time, I become a big baby and start crying. If I see a community rally around a single mom who works three jobs and whose car broke down, I cry. I watched a couple of guys buy a guitar for a busker who had to pawn his guitar to get food. I cried. I see people reaching out, maybe for fame or viral status, or maybe because they genuinely care about people. Doesn’t matter. I cry.
But kindness doesn’t always take the same form does it? God, the man after God’s own heart, and the “chief of sinners” all showed kindness in today’s passages, but in stark contrast of means.
David, having great military success showed outrageous kindness to the least likely of recipients. After a new king took over, it was traditional for them to wipe out any remaining relatives of the old regime. When Ziba was called before King David and asked if Jonathan had any remaining relatives, I’m sure he wondered if David’s proposed motive was genuine. But indeed, when David heard of Mephibosheth, he sent for him and not only allowed him to live, but lavished rich gifts upon him, allowed him to dwell in the palace, and eat from the king’s own table! I love Mephibosheth’s response: “What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?” David showed kindness in a way that would probably make me cry if I saw it on video.
Paul wrote to a church for at least the second time, and this is potentially the fourth letter Paul wrote to them, although only the second preserved for us. He had to write some very stern things in the first letter we have in our Bibles, and he cared about them enough to tell them what needed to be said. But he also cared enough that he didn’t want to have to write like that again, nor did he want to have to say such harsh things when he returned to them in person. It appears that the church had followed Paul’s instructions regarding church discipline from 1 Corinthians 5, but now he urges them to forgive and restore a repentant brother. This could be considered by many to be a great kindness, but Paul asserts that it ought to be the norm. We are not prone to forgive those who wrong us, or those around us, but the Holy Spirit, by way of Paul urges us to seek reconciliation following repentance.
But then we come to Ezekiel 16. At first reading, it sounds like God is downright angry with His people, and He of right ought to be. He had shown them great love, and they had taken the blessings He had given them and used those very blessings to turn away from him into spiritual adultery. That would be heartbreaking. Yet, in spite of God enumerating the judgment that was to come, He ends the chapter by telling them that He will make and keep His covenant with them. Sometimes, we let children suffer some of the consequences of their actions so that they understand the ramifications of foolish choices, but then we protect them from the ultimate end of those choices. In a similar way, God did not protect His people from all the consequences of their sin, but He did not destroy them as He well could have. Aren’t you thankful for God’s longsuffering and kindness in your life? He doesn’t let you off the hook for your sin, but He loves you and forgives you. What a sweet display of our Father’s love.