Monday, October 24, 2022

Choose Kindness (Proverbs 11:17)

“A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.” [Proverbs 11:17, ESV]

When it comes to the workplace, some of the nicest people end up being the ones one should be wary of. It is no secret that many workplaces have issues with employees seeking to throw each other under the bus, and it is no secret that the cutthroat culture of the workplace ends up affecting life outside of the workplace. We often miss the opportunities that God gives us to glorify Him. How many of us truly view each day as another gift from God, filled with hundreds (or even thousands) of decisions to be made? Many of us approach each day with the mindset that, unless we have a package arriving in the mail, or we have a party to go to, or something else to look forward to, we are just existing. I used to view my life as a bunch of boring days, with the occasional high-point to look forward to, only for my life to go right back to being boring, until there was something new to be excited about. That process repeated for most of my life, and I had no idea how much I was hurting myself.

It took me twenty years to learn why I am alive, why I am alive now (rather than before, or some time in the future), and why I am where I am. The short answer is that I am alive because God gave me the gift of life, and I am alive now because God has something that He will use me to accomplish. I am where I am because God will bring something out of my situation, and I am alive to do what God has called me to do. Nothing God does is without purpose.

What does any of this have to do with the passage that we are discussing today? Well, when we look at each day as an opportunity to serve the Lord, every decision that we make becomes important, and every decision we make is influenced by the Lord and His Word. When we view every decision, of every day, as an opportunity to serve the Lord, we are met with a dilemma: will we choose to die to ourselves and serve the Lord, or will we seek to benefit ourselves?

Will we choose to treat others with kindness, even if we have to bite our tongues, even when it hurts us? Will we choose to sacrifice our desires for the desires of others? Will we seek peace, or will we seek anger and strife? Will we repay evil with evil, or will we repay evil with good? Will we bless others with the words we speak, or will we gossip and tear others down? Will we choose to obey God's Word, or will we serve ourselves?

For those of you who desire to serve the Lord in every area of life, the first half of this verse is for you. The latter half of the verse is for those who choose to ignore God and His commandments.

"A man who is kind benefits himself,..."

The former half of the verse is fairly straightforward. The man who is kind will benefit himself. How can a man benefit himself when we know that God's Word tells us to love one another selflessly, to forgive one another, how we should not repay evil for evil? If we are only looking at the potential benefits for our kindness coming from other people, or from anything on earth, we are going to be very disappointed. If we are only concerned with what others do in response to our kindness, the potential benefits we receive from them will be the only benefits that we receive. However, when we seek to honor God, to keep His commandments, and to glorify Him, He will bless us beyond our comprehension. When we honor God, God honors us. God's blessings are the greatest benefits that one could ever receive. Why seek to please man when man cannot save us? Why seek man when he cannot cure disease, when he cannot raise the dead, when he cannot restore the sight of the blind? God can do anything, He sees everything, and He will never let us go without a reward for our good deeds.

It may seem like God has not rewarded you for something you have done to show kindness to another person, but I would encourage you to take a closer look at your life. Perhaps your reward is coming, or maybe it was already given to you, but you did not realize it.  When we look at life with our mind set on serving Christ, we will honor God with the decisions we make, and we will be able to identify more clearly when God is at work in our lives. I never realized how much God blesses me with each day until I took the time to focus my heart and mind on God. It was only when my mind was focused on God that I was able to see Him working in my life.

"...but a cruel man hurts himself."

Conversely, when we do not show kindness to others, we will be punished. Just as God sees the good that we do in secret, so does He see the evil that we do in public. The evil we do, whether in public, or in private, is seen by God. God is just, and He defends the righteous. While acting in self-interest may benefit us now, God will ensure that we will not go unpunished.

Each of us has a choice to make. Choose kindness.

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