When People Mistreat You
I could quote the verse long before I really felt the impact God intended for it to have in my life. It was several years ago, when we lived in Birmingham, that one of my children’s Bible classes was memorizing short phrases from the Bible. The teacher asked for my help and I readily responded. Decades have passed, but I distinctly remember those six words of Paul and the impact they had on me. What were those words? “Be ye kind one to another” (Eph. 4:32).
The Bible demands kindness. We are told to be kindly affectionate to each other (Rom. 12:21); to be kind and forgiving (Eph. 4:32); to put on kindness (Col. 3:12) and to give all diligence in adding kindness to our faith (2 Pet. 1:5-7).
The Bible illustrates kindness. The lives of those saints of old show what kindness is, and we are amazed as we read about them. Joseph was kind to his brothers who sold him as a slave (Gen. 50:21); Moses was kind to the seven daughters of Reuel who were mistreated by the evil shepherds; David was kind to the crippled grandson of evil King Saul (2 Sam. 9); and the good Samaritan was kind to that stranger, beaten and bleeding, whom he saw beside the road. As we read these stories, we are amazed at how differently these saints reacted from the way we would have reacted!
It is so easy to be kind to some people. When people show kindness to us we readily respond kindly to them. Jesus described it in these words, “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matt. 5:46). The measure of our kindness is not determined by how we treat those who are kind to us.
It is so hard to be kind to some people. Those words of Jesus follow His words about how we should deal with our enemies, with those who curse us, with those who hate us and those who despise us, with those who out of spite take advantage of us and persecute us. We are to love them, bless them, do good to them and pray for them. Here is the measure of true kindness. It is manifested in how we treat people who are rude to us in the market place, to co-workers who mistreat us, to family members who aggravate us and to all those whose agenda seems to be to hurt us with words and deeds. Here is the measure of true kindness.
Kindness is not what we do, it is what we are. The reality is that if we wait until the moment of conflict with unkind people to decide what to do, we will likely respond unkindly. Kindness is a trait of heart, not an artificial action. Kind people do not have to decide to act kindly. This is their automatic response! It is who they are.
God help us to be kind one to another!