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5 Keys to Kindness

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The phrase one another appears 59 times in the New Testament of the Bible as it pertains to how we ought to treat each other. Forgive one another, love one another, honor one another, live in harmony with one another, and serve one another— just to name a few.

Two particular instances I’d like to focus on in this article, due to their timeliness and relevance, are accept and be kind to one another.

First, Romans 15:7 reads, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Acceptance is often quoted in today’s culture. It’s a hot topic, politically correct, and usually synonymous with “tolerance.” What people usually mean by acceptance and tolerance is that we should approve of everyone’s life choices and behaviors. To “live and let live.” This mentality instantly shuts down correction or speaking the truth in love, respect, and gentleness (see Ephesians 4:15, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, and 1 Peter 3:15). Yet we cannot be silent about what we know to be true from God’s Word.

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So what is the biblical definition of “acceptance” as seen in Romans 15:7? To accept is to welcome and invite in. The context of this, which is evident in the next verse, is that Jews and Gentiles are now one—united for God’s praise and glory—through Jesus Christ. So the Apostle Paul was encouraging all believers to welcome each other. Despite their backgrounds. Despite cultural differences.

Second, Ephesians 4:32 reads, “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” It’s one thing to accept one another. It’s something else altogether to be kind to someone you disagree with. Some of us carry past hurts, fears, and stereotypes that only serve as roadblocks and hindrances to us fulfilling the biblical command of kindness. However, Jesus Christ’s love, grace, and forgiveness enables us to let down our guard—making unity possible.

Here are five ways we can be kind to one another, which will lead to harmony not only in our churches, but also the world:

  1. Fight first impressions. We like to draw conclusions quickly when we see someone. But we need to realize that every person we see has been made in the image of God—no matter how different they are from us. (See Genesis 1:27 and James 3:9.)
  2. Love, don’t label. We’re very good at labeling people. Labels and lazy, and they only serve to divide us. Choose love instead because love brings unity and peace.
  3. Recognize all people have wounds. When I see someone who is racist or mean or angry, I can’t help but think, Something’s going on in that person’s life—the way he was raised, something in his home or in his life. There are people all around us who are hurting. Let’s show understanding, compassion, and grace.
  4. Let Scripture be your standard. Mother Teresa lived by the Scripture, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). In every single detail in this culture and the battles that are being waged, let Scripture be your guide in your response.
  5. Make mercy your message. God is holy, righteous, and merciful. He is also just. God will bring judgment when He wants to bring judgment. That’s not your job, and it’s not my job. As James 2:13 reads, “…because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

May God help each of us to apply these keys to kindness in our daily lives, in order to transform the world. May the world take notice and ask why we do the things we do. And may our answer always be bold when we say: Jesus.

By Dudley Rutherford, senior pastor of Shepherd Church and founder of LiftUpJesus.com

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