By Allen White
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
I almost wish that this verse wasn’t in the Bible. Almost. This verse feels completely counter to who I am. I’m a driven, task-oriented guy. I don’t really have time for a verse like this. Seriously.
I’ve always thought it was a bit of a joke that God would take a guy with the personality of Attila the Hun and give him the spiritual gift of pastor. I mean I can try to live out this verse for like five minutes, then I need to go lay down.
Then, one day, the light bulb went off. This verse doesn’t say, “Thou shalt be kind and compassionate…” If you read it with a legalistic voice in your head, it might sound like, “You’d better be kind and forgive, because God did forgive you after all. If you keep screwing up, He might revoke His forgiveness.”
This verse doesn’t point to my worthiness for Heaven. I’m not worthy for Heaven, except for the last phrase, “just as in Christ God forgave you.” The verse doesn’t say, “God forgave you, now get with it.” Our forgiveness, our ability to forgive others, even kindness and compassion flow from our relationship with God. Our nature is fight or flight, do or die, dog eat dog. God wants to elevate our nature by developing His character in us.
Those who are close to me are quick to remind me that I’m not the curmudgeon that I make myself out to be. Every time I go to a concert, I end up sponsoring another child in a third world country. I’ve had to stop sponsoring new ones or else my children will end up on those World Vision cards for another family to sponsor. I sometimes cry at sappy movies on television. Now, I need to go eat some hot wings or something.
I’m not trying to become the Humanitarian of the Year. That would be laughable to most people. But, I am trying to allow God to work in me to develop my character. Nothing is impossible with God. Little by little I’m getting there.
And, it’s probably good that no one has ever let me edit the Bible anyway.
How’s your compassion these days? How is your kindness showing? If these things seem impossible or at least unlikely, ask God to do this work in you. He might just surprise you.
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