Giving That Which Is Undeserved
I think I’ve written about this already, but it’s worth writing about again. I spent over a year studying 1 Corinthians 13, trying to understand more intimately what love is and how to live that way. In my studies, I learned that kindness in the Bible is when you give something to someone that they did not earn and/or do not deserve.
While on my daily run this morning, I was contemplating lovingkindness (agape) in the context of charity, that is, charity in the modern sense which is reduced to giving money to a remote cause. I think there is a danger to believe that our giving is enough and that our kindness can end there. If you paid a certain amount of money to missionaries in remote areas of the world, then you have done your part.
But lovingkindness is not a penance that can be paid and forgotten. In fact, I will go as far as to say that what we do pay into missions really should be an outpouring of the kindness that is already within us. In that sense, the money we send is not the kindness but an outward sign of the kindness within.
Okay, that sounds too new-age. How can I say that in a better way? When we become saved, when we receive the Holy Spirit, our lives change. What we desire changes. I do believe that kindness of any sort should be based on a principled decision long before the act of kindness is committed. So I am in no way suggesting that we should be just gushing with kind feelings towards people and give out of that. No. I am saying that our plans in this life are made right (Proverbs 16:3) via the influence of the Holy Spirit. When we make kindness part of our plan, then the money we send to missions should be an outpouring of that plan. Looking at it that was is both less new-age and less impressive. But it hits closer to the mark.
What this means is that someone who lives life as a stingy grouch (think Mr. Scrooge) is not deemed kind just because he sends money to missions every month. I do not believe stingy is the life Jesus has called us to. I do not believe we can just throw money in the offering plate and think we’ve done our bit. Kindness should be extended to all of our neighbors, not just those who live in third world countries or other places where the missionaries go.
Kindness in the Bible is when something is given that isn’t earned or deserved. When was the last time you said a kind word about the people who don’t like you? When was the last time you helped someone who you know would never have helped you and probably never will in the future? When was the last time you did something for someone even though their behavior didn’t warrant such kindness? We are called to be blessings in the lives of the people around us. It’s not about the money. It’s about our hearts and how we treat the people we see every day.
I am in not way suggesting that peoples should stop sending offerings to missions, but this Valentines day I would like to ask you to consider how you treat the people in your life. Are you kind? Are you kind enough? Do people see Christ through your kindness?
Happy Valentines Day everyone!