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Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

“Could you talk to Janey? Sarah beat her up again.” The voice on the other end of the line was a concerned mom from one of my kids in youth group. Her daughter, Janey was friends with one of the toughest kids in school. Usually the two got along fine. But Sarah’s family was abusive and full of anger, rage and violence. If Sarah were having a bad day, she was a time-bomb ready to go off on anyone who was near. Most kids in school just left her alone. In fact, she really only had one friend in the entire school-Janey.

Try as we might, we could never keep the two apart. Janey insisted that Sarah needed Jesus. “If I’m not her friend, who will be?” was her constant argument. That was over 30 years ago. Today Sarah is living out east. She’s a grandma and married to a wonderful Christian man!

I often wonder what would have happened if Janey had listened to us and abandoned her friend. Social wisdom says we leave people alone who may hurt us. ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me’ is the rule to live by safely. If you know someone is going to fail you, avoid them. Protect yourself. Don’t trust them. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of and made the fool.

The problem with social wisdom is that it runs contrary to what Jesus taught us while he was here on earth. One night, he knelt at the feet of each of his disciples to wash their feet. He did that knowing that in a few short hours, each of these men would abandon him. One would publicly deny him. Another would sell him to the enemy for a measly 30 pieces of silver. One would run away naked. All of them left him in his time of deepest need.

Even though he knew they would fail him, he forgave them and loved them. He’s doing the same thing today. Jesus knew you’d fail the day he went to the cross for you. He knows the things you struggle with. None of that surprises him. Your sin doesn’t surprise Jesus. Your rebellion doesn’t keep him from loving you and standing by you in your time of need.

In the same way, we are called to love those around us. Don’t be surprised when people fail you. Like you, they are human, and humans naturally sin. Sometimes we may need to be wise and protect ourselves from physical harm, but we should never stop forgiving, never stop loving, never stop lifting those who’ve hurt is in prayer.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why you are so forgiving when we are so rebellious and stubborn. Thank you that you haven’t given up on me. Thank you that even though I’m going to try to keep from sin, you know I’ll fail and you will forgive me when I repent and come to you for healing. Empower me with your Spirit to live for you. Empower me to forgive as you have forgiven. In your name I pray, Amen.

 


He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done. Proverbs 19:17

In our times of uncertainty, the credit rating has become huge in determining if we will reach our goals. It wasn’t long ago that a mediocre credit rating could give you all the money you thought you needed to get all those cool toys you wanted. But easy credit led to debt because we borrowed way more than we could possibly pay. Now our dreams for dream home have changed to a hoping for a home at all; rather than the shiny sports car we just hope we have enough money to keep our 15 year old sedan running one more year; and Christmas…tighten your belt because even Santa is having trouble these days.

Financial institutions are afraid to loan money these days because so many of us are in debt that they can’t take the risk. Those with good collateral or an outstanding credit rating get the money they are seeking at the best loan rates.

God’s economy doesn’t work anything like mans economy. God’s economy isn’t built on what we have or what we’ve done in the past. God’s economy is built on who He is and what we do with Him.

Proverbs 19:17 isn’t so much about money as it is how we treat each other. Sometimes our actions towards one another are built on the philosophy of ‘what will I get in return for this.’ At the very least, when we do something nice for someone we expect a ‘thank you’. If we don’t get thanked we feel slighted and may think twice about doing something for that person again.

Relationship Credit Ratings also ask the question, ‘What have you done to me/for me in the past?’ It’s easy to be kind to kind people. It’s easy (and sometimes safer) to avoid angry people. Angry people hurt people and none of us wants to be hurt. Being kind is as risky as loaning money to a person with bad credit. The result can be the same. You get burned and feel like you’ve been taken advantage of.

As Christ-followers we need to take a different look at kindness. Each of us has a ‘Love Bank’ within us. We take from this bank to do kind things for others. When that kindness is returned we deposit it back in our bank to share with others. Sometimes though, our tank runs dry. We are in abusive situations, we are hounded by the guilt and shame of our past, we’re overworked, underpaid and so deep in trouble we can’t see the end of the tunnel.

What we need to make progress on this journey called life is a bank account that is endless. Proverbs says that when we show kindness to someone; no matter who it is; no matter what they have done to us in the past; no matter how ungrateful or undeserving they are, we should do it as though we are lending to God. Our actions may not be appreciated by others, but they will be by God.

When we do good things for ‘bad people’ we are drawing off the Love Bank of God. His ‘bank’ has unlimited assets. Every time we make a withdrawal from God’s bank account, He promises to reward us! Be kind to each other as though we were being kind to God. Consider what He has done for you when you interact with those who may not be pleasant. You will reap the rewards of God’s love when you do.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you today for your great kindness and love. I confess to you that there are some days, and some people who I have a real hard time being kind to. They have hurt me, taken advantage of me and judged me unfairly. Empower me by Your Spirit to show them kindness because of you and not based on their Relational Credit Rating. In Jesus name, Amen.


Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

A friend of mine I’ll call John tells the story of how he had befriended a person who was really struggling with life. John spent hours listening to his new friend tell of her pain, encouraged her when she was feeling down, called her when she was sick and rejoiced with her when things were going well. In the process of building this friendship John told her of the weaknesses he had in order to help her see that she wasn’t the only one that struggled.

One day John found out that the young lady he was helping was telling everyone she knew about his ‘weaknesses’. John was hurt, embarrassed and frustrated by the betrayal and told me he was ‘done helping people.’

As John was sharing his hurt with me I thought of the verse in Galatians where Paul tells us to ‘never grow weary in doing good.’ Each of us takes a risk when we reach out to those around us who are in need. We put ourselves in risk of being hurt ourselves. We put ourselves in danger of falling into sin.

Another risk we take in reaching out to other people is that our motives can be misunderstood. Try as we might to be honest and reach out to others, they may reject our attempts to help or even accuse us of meddling. It seems that those of us in ministry (not JUST pastors) are the most vulnerable to growing weary from helping others.

There always seems to be opposition to the best plans for helping others. It takes time away from our own lives, people are often ungrateful or demanding, some just want to take advantage of our generosity for their own selfish means. It’s no wonder we become disheartened. But Paul exhorts us not to give up doing good but to persevere in spite of how we are treated.

Sometimes there are people we come across who are never satisfied with what we do. We wear our hair wrong, wear the wrong clothes, go to the wrong church, like the wrong music…and the list goes on and on. There is much truth to the saying you can please some people some of the time but you can’t please all the people all the time. We can add to that the reality that there are some people we will never please ANY of the time.

The lesson we as Christ followers must realize is that our reward for doing good won’t necessarily come while we are on earth. It’s a hard lesson to learn but we may be totally unappreciated for what we do until we get to heaven. But don’t get tired. Don’t give up. God sees your efforts. He knows your heart. Even if people don’t understand, your Heavenly Father does understand.

When you feel unappreciated or taken advantage of, or when you can’t seem to please some people, do your deeds as though you were doing them for Jesus. He not only will appreciate you, He and the angels applaud your efforts!

PRAYER: Father, I’m tired of the people around me who never seem satisfied with my efforts. I’m tired of being taken advantage of and betrayed by those who say they are my friends. I’m appalled at the fact that many of the people who have hurt me the worst claim to be followers of you. I ask that you would heal me of the wounds others have placed on me when I’ve only tried to help them. Empower me to continue to work for the good of those around me for Your sake. I ask this in your Holy name, Amen.

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