“Kindness in speech is the overflow of a heart of love that seeks the good of the other.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 29, 2021
To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day. 1 Corinthians 4:11-13, NRSV
When there is an expectation of alignment between culture and Christianity, it is difficult to understand the ancient words of St. Paul. Should Christians long to see the values of the Kingdom break forth in their own societies? Of course. The way of Christ is the way of life, and it is therefore right and good to long for this way to grow and flourish, on earth as it is in heaven. However, the belief or expectation that this would happen in a large scale way was entirely unknown to the early followers of Christ, and they therefore knew something that we in the West struggle to comprehend. Namely, that fidelity to Christ may result in the loss of reputation, social status, or financial security.
Christians are not meant to actively seek out persecution. This is neither virtuous nor wise. As Paul says elsewhere, we are meant to mind our own business and pursue a life of quiet and peace (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). Yet true and lasting peace is found, not simply in the tranquility of the seaside or the majestic beauty of the mountains, but only in the abiding life of the Spirit. This is the aim of our lives and our true home, and that destination does not change in the face of cultural peace and prosperity or in times of conflict and persecution.
We cannot control the wider cultural forces that swirl about us. We can resolve to be faithful to Christ in any and all situations. When Christians have seen great alignment with their faith and society, throughout the ages this has brought with it both blessing and difficulty. Similarly, in times of persecution, though the challenge is easy to see, we must not forget that these are the moments in which the Church grew most profoundly and saw its fidelity to Christ strengthened and made secure.
Whatever your life situation may be, is fidelity to Jesus Christ the single most important pursuit of your life? When you feel slighted, misunderstood, or outright rejected for your faith in Christ, in small and unseen ways or in costly and profoundly painful seasons, can you find inspiration and hope in the example of Paul and the early disciples? Notice his words- regardless of how bad it got, how utterly reviled and disrespected they became, their hearts were overflowing with kindness and love, even towards those who despised them the most.
We speak kindly. This kindness in speech is the overflow of a heart of love that seeks the good of the other, not just those who love us, but those who hate us. May God grant us the same love, and the courage to pass our days in his peace, serving and blessing the world in his name.
Father, fill our hearts with your kindness and love, that we may be free in all situations and circumstances to speak your peace, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Whether big or small, in what ways are you most tested or challenged as a follower of Christ? How can you speak kindly and love those who revile and reject you?
Sandra McCracken: Kindness
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