Do we have it? How do we show it?
Conflicts, disagreements, and differences are unavoidable. Of course, they occur not only in godless societies but also in every community of faith.
The issue for the Christian who wants to follow Christ is: What should our reaction be? How should we respond?
The apostle Paul enjoins us to be “Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Eph 4:32, NIV here and after).
The adjective “kind” here ranges in meaning from “fit for use, useful, mild, pleasant, benevolent” (Thayer). The verb form is used in 1 Corinthians 13:4 in relation to the subject of love: “Love is patient, love is kind.”
This latter reference puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the Christian to show himself or herself to be “mild, kind, or use kindness” (Thayer)
Jesus taught more elaborately on this.
In Matthew 5, he says this: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (v. 23-24).
And in Matthew 18, “If your brother or sister (fellow believers) sins (against you – in some manuscripts), go and point out their fault, just between the two of you (v. 15).
The significant implication is the teaching that whether you are the offending party (as in Matthew 5) or the offended party (as in Matthew 18) you take the initiative to go and seek reconciliation.
On Matthew 5:23, Adam Clarke commented that “A Christian, properly speaking, cannot be an enemy to any man; nor is he to consider any man his enemy.”
The ancient “fathers” of our faith taught this:
A gift offered to God is not acceptable unless the giver puts aside his or her anger and becomes reconciled to the brother (Chromatius). One who hates is akin to a murderer (Theodore of Heraclea). Jesus does not receive the sacrifice of worship without the sacrifice of love. Not before or later but precisely while the very gift is lying there, when the sacrifice is already beginning, he sends you to be reconciled to your brother (Chrysostom). One who does not love one’s brother does not love the Lord (Cyril of Alexandria). Let brotherly peace come first, before one approaches the altar (Jerome, Augustine)
This is the way we show the face of kindness.
Pastor Robert Chew