You are the Light of the world.
Matthew 5:14
I’m taking a one-day break from our encouragement series to send out a special message about kindness. There is a lot of anxiety in the world today. We don’t need any more of it. In our fallen world, no one is perfect. There is no one who doesn’t have a character flaw, no one who does not make mistakes. There is also no one who does not have destructive impulses. We all have them. If we say we don’t have them, then we are lying to ourselves.
When we are anxious, either by our own circumstance, or someone else who is causing us anxiety, many of us almost naturally run to our destructive impulse. We eat a bag of potato chips, or have an ice cream sundae, or we suck down a 12-pack, or go to the computer and look at something inappropriate. Under the wrong circumstances, we might even consider doing something permanent, and sadly, there are some who act on this and succeed.
Jesus told us to be lights in the world. It is the one quality we share with God. Light is the one thing that Jesus said that “I (he) and the Light of the world,” and “you (us) are the light of the world.”
The light is not always bright in my world. People irritate me all the time, as I’m sure I irritate them. The challenge, and the Christian response, to our state of mutual irritation is to lead with kindness. It is never wrong to lead with kindness, mercy, and compassion. These are God-like qualities. God is full of kindness, mercy, and compassion towards us. Should we not offer these to one another? Anger, while it may seem to be a justified response, ultimately darkens our light. Anger is a part of life. There is no life where we will not experience anger. Even Jesus got angry from time to time. However, He did not stew in His anger. He expressed His frustrations and got right back to kindness, mercy, and compassion.
I’m reminded of the words of Psalm 4:4-5: Be angry, but sin not; commune with your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and put your trust in the Lord.
These are beautiful words that are indeed hard to live by. Yet, they light the path to our salvation. The Lord doesn’t tell us not to be angry. Rather He tells us to be angry but do so in a way that is not sinful. Be angry, but don’t forget about kindness, mercy, and compassion.
Psalm 103:10-11 says He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him.
Multiple times each day, we will be faced with a choice to make—to contribute to the increase of anxiety in the world, or to contribute to the decrease of anxiety in the world. When we lead with mercy, compassion, and kindness through encouragement, we become part of the solution and we help to lessen the problem. We each have the power to push people towards their destructive impulses or away from them. And only that, when we interact with someone who has done us neither harm nor good, with someone who we don’t know whether they are ready to succeed or self-destruct, a kind word might be the thing that rescues them from self-destruction, or which propels them further on their road to success. That’s why it’s never wrong to lead with kindness, mercy, and compassion, and making encouragement a deliberate and intentional part of our lives is of critical importance, especially in these days.
Lead with mercy, compassion, and kindness. Offer encouragement generously.
Lord, help me to be a light in the world today. Speak good things into my heart about mercy, compassion and kindness. Help me to remember to lead with these things, even in the times when I am frustrated and angry, even with those who don’t deserve these things from me. You are merciful, kind and compassionate toward my shortcomings. Help me to extend this to others. Help me to see those who need encouragement today and to offer it generously. Amen.
Let your light shine through kindness today.