Kindness…and some thoughts on Luke 6:34-38
I e-mailed my husband that the humidifier fan seemed to be running a little hard, but was raising the humidity to only 51%. I asked him whether I should turn the unit off. “It doesn’t hurt anything to keep running,” he responded. “It’s just the fan blowing.” “That’s probably why the Lord lets so many of us live,” I replied. My husband is well accustomed to my leaps over the usual bounds of abstract extrapolation, so he probably didn’t find my response puzzling.
Like the humidifier fan, I can keep running, at least in a metaphorical, non-orthopedic sense, like a blowing fan sometimes, and later wonder whether I’ve left hurt in my wake. How many times would it have been as easy to be kind as to be cross? Probably countless.
I run into so very many people who believe they are Christian, but who would never think to test their hypothesis by reading the Bible. I tell them that it is necessary to read the Bible, because it is the word of God, and because God reveals in his word who he is, what he requires of us, and what he has done for us. Some of them have read a fair amount of the Bible, but it would never occur to them to read Chronicles or Numbers to learn who God is, what he requires of us, and what he has done for us. To this, I respond with the aphorism, all of the Bible is equally inspired, even if not equally inspiring. I try to explain this kindly, but patience is not a blessing of which I partake in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over into my lap. And so I wonder how much I misrepresent Christ when my unchecked impatience runs over my zeal.
Who God tells us he is, is holy and sovereign, but who he tells us he is to us, is merciful. And he requires us to be merciful, just as he has been merciful to us. Need proof? If you are reading this, you’re not in hell, and that is attributable solely to God’s mercy.
And to whom must we be merciful? To our enemies — for God is kind to the ungrateful and evil. The ungrateful and evil! My least favorite people. But my cohort just the same. God is kind to the ungrateful and evil. Somehow, however many times I have read this, all the Biblical theology I have studied — I am never prepared for the way these words stand out like a green leafy tree atop a snowy hill in the bright sun. Yes, exactly like that: green leaves and snow in one spectacular beacon. How can such elements possibly coexist — but they must. How else could sinners lend to sinners and receive as much back? And how else would the Lord let us all live? “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”