I shouldn’t look. But sometimes on Twitter a name or situation in the “Trending” sidebar catches my eye. So I click over. And I am usually sorry I did. All too often, the trending person or group is the subject of undeserved vitriol and ridicule.
Most people would say that the world should be kinder. If only people would just be nicer to each other, we think, then the world would be a better place to live. Wars, murders, and injustice would cease.
But then someone disagrees with our politics, and we lambast them. Or someone cuts us off in traffic, and we call them all kinds of names. Or we see someone wearing a mask while inside their car, alone, and we take to Facebook to make fun of them.
In the earliest days of the pandemic, I got in someone’s way in a store without thinking. As the young man passed me, he looked in my eyes, pulled his mask down, and told his companion, “I hope she gets COVID. I hope she dies from it.” Seriously—to wish death on someone for a minor inconvenience?
If we want a kinder world, we can’t wait for everyone else to make the first move. We need to evaluate our own words and attitudes.
Well, sure, we might say. We need to watch our temper. We probably shouldn’t get on Facebook or Twitter to vent. But, seriously, there are some people . . . like the guy who just will not listen to reason. Or who is totally wrong about the best way to handle immigration, economics, or whatever.
Sadly, many Christians are nor faring any better in the kindness department. Some are gracious and loving online. But many are harsh and judgmental, quick to argue instead of listen, answering in superiority instead of humility. We desperately need revival.
Kindness doesn’t mean passivity, never taking a stand, or never disagreeing. But I think it must at least involve assuming the best rather than the worst motives and not stooping to the lowest levels in the way we answer people made in the image of God, people Jesus loves and died for.
We’re to treat other believers as family: “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). To unbelievers, we should shine as lights. We should be inviting, treating them as those we want to come into the family.
Jesus told his disciples, in the Sermon on the Mount:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
How is it that we apply this to everyone else under the sun, except the person who irritates us the most?
God doesn’t just give good things to those who believe on Him. He “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” He went so far as to die for people who were his enemies:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
And we’re called to be like him.
We can’t do that in our own strength. We need His.
The world at large won’t understand this. But maybe if they see it in action, their eyes might be opened, their hearts more receptive to the truth.
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