43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Mat. 5:43-45
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Lk. 6:35-36).
I was shocked to learn recently that of the most hated group amongst prisoners by their fellow inmates are child molesters, also known as paedophiles. The other group that is equally hated in prison are rapists. These two groups of people are amongst those who are most likely to be attacked in jail by their fellow inmates. In other words, the men that we loathe most (criminals) do not like people who mercilessly prey on the weak.
Now, I know it is not easy to talk well of jailed criminals, many of who themselves have hurt people in extremely bad and cruel ways. But it is contemplative to know that somewhere in their dark hearts, these people can sport some form of kindness. I am also assured that, to the dismay of many of us, we will find many of these violent criminals seated in the front row in the Kingdom of God. They will have heard the gospel and they will have repented of their sins. And God forgot long ago that they ever sinned!
The heart of man is God’s abode. It can carry incredible riches – riches of the grace of God. That is why when we get to heaven, you will find these violent murderers seated up front. It is because one day, these men and women opened their hearts to the grace of God and it transformed their lives. God’s Kingdom is all about the heart.
Just consider the sun again. The sun has been around since Adam. That talks of how rich God is. That thing could be up there for eternity if God so desired, burning up and never diminishing. That talks of His power.
In the same way that He is rich and powerful physically and materially, God is more so spiritually. Amongst His many Godly characteristics (of which He is extremely rich) is the trait of kindness. Kindness goes hand in hand with mercy, and that is why Luke’s account is so helpful here. The root cause of kindness is mercy. Mercy talks of a soft heart. That is one reason why when we believe God gives us a heart of meat. He removes a heart of stone from us and gives us a soft heart so that we may be kind to people.
Kindness is something very deep, and spiritual. Kindness also speaks of humility. You have to be humble in order to be kind. Otherwise, you will lord it over anyone unfortunate enough to ‘benefit’ from your selfish brand of generosity, which is no generosity at all.
In the natural, when people hurt us we immediately think of ourselves. Self takes over. That is when anger and little things like resentment, and irritation set in. We are so weak!
But kindness is the basis for forgiveness. You don’t forgive because it is written; you forgive because you love that person. With God, when we hurt Him, He thinks of us. When we hurt God, He comes up close and looks us up. He is not thinking about revenge, but He is looking for where the problem is. Once He finds the faultline, He lovingly fixes it. That is mercy.
God is calling us to carry the same heart that He has. And that can only be accomplished in the Spirit when we go to the cross, just as the Author of our salvation went to the cross. The gospel of the cross alone can cause us to have the heart that Jesus had and still has.
[Below: The roundabout leading to Singida Town]