Day 33: Kindness
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor.
One evening, my wife and I played a game with our boys creatively called, “I like you because…” We put everyone’s name into a hat and took turns pulling one out. Then for each name we drew, we would give one reason why we liked that person. To our pleasant surprise, the boys loved it. It took awhile, of course, to define the nature of a genuine compliment, but soon they began to enjoy both giving and receiving words of kindness. There were quite a few silly ones such as, “I like you because you are good at football,” and, “I like you because you are smelly.” But my favorite was when one of our boys looked deep into his mother’s eyes and said, “Mommy, I like you because you are thoughtful and caring and hard-working.” Our boys were so intent on the game that we played three rounds that first night and they were still handing out compliments during breakfast the next morning.
We all need to practice being kind. So dads, I encourage you to . . .
We all need to practice being kind. So dads, I encourage you to try this game with your own family. Don’t be thrown off by the hilarity which ensues when someone selects their own name, but do take the time to define and demonstrate the nature of a true compliment. Most importantly, be ready to share your own words of kindness for each member in the family.
Dads, you must often remind your children to be kind, yet kindness is more than simply being nice to people who are nice to them. As Jesus commands, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Or in the words of my boys, “Kindness is loving others even when they do things that you don’t like. Kindness is responding with gentleness when someone takes your toy (Prov. 15:1). Kindness is bearing patiently with that annoying girl at school (1 Cor. 13:4a). Kindness is letting your brother choose the first dessert (v. 5) or deciding to forgive an offense (Eph. 4:32).” Dads, teach your children that kindness is hard, so that they will see their need for Jesus. They will often fail at kindness, whereas Jesus never did (Heb. 4:15). He was always kind, even to Judas who betrayed him (Luke 22:47-48) and to sinners like us for whom he died (Rom. 5:8). Your children need Jesus to forgive their lack of kindness and declare them righteous before God. They need Jesus because kindness is only possible by the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). They need Jesus who did not die to make them nice, but to make them new (2 Cor. 5:17).
Dads, remember also that you show kindness to your children by your example. You will always love them, but you may not always like them. You can get most angry at those little ones who just happen to be your children. They will frustrate you, pester you, grieve you, and anger you: “We’re all going to enjoy this vacation if it kills us!” At such times, remember the love of Christ and “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). Your children are wicked reprobates in need of salvation who will fight and claw to get what they want from you. They sin often despite your best efforts to bring them up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (6:4). Therefore, you will often need to forgive them “as God in Christ forgave you.” Know, however, that “whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor” (Prov. 21:21). Run after righteousness. Pursue lovingkindness. Live God’s way and he will bless you with the good life, the righteousness you seek, and the honor he only bestows upon his own. God alone can give you strength to be a loving father who leads his children in the way of blessing (4:10-12). God alone rewards your kindness to your children with his lovingkindness toward you (3:1-12).
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Help me to be tenderhearted toward my children even when I do not want to be kind. Remind me of your lovingkindness toward me and convict me of my shortcomings. Cultivate in me a love for Christ which compels me to be gracious and teach me the skillful wisdom of expressing kindness to those around me. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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