But They Don't Deserve My Kindness!

May 23, 2023

Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. 1 Peter 3:8b-9 NLT

It is said that there are three levels of living: “To return evil for good. That is devilish. To return evil for evil. That is human. To return good for evil. That is divine.”

I think we would all agree we see way too much of the first, doing evil to people who have done nothing to deserve it. The random shootings that are increasingly common break our hearts and enrage us. It seems impossible to understand.

On the other end of it, Rev. Anthony Thompson was pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Twenty-one-year-old Dylann Roof came into the church and, intending to start a racial war, pulled out a gun and let out a flurry of 77 bullets. Roof stood over his victims, shooting again and again as they lay on the floor. He paused five times to reload, shouting hateful racial slurs as he shot them. Some played dead and miraculously escaped his gunfire. Eight of the church members died at the scene, and one died later—they became known as the Emanuel Nine. Pastor Thompson’s wife Myra was one of the victims. Pastor Thompson went to Roof’s hearing and told him, “I forgive you. My family forgives you.” Later, with Roof waiting on death row for execution, Thompson wrote him and shared the message of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus. That was a reaction most of the world couldn’t understand either. Many said he wouldn’t be able to maintain that stance. Well, eight years later, Pastor Thompson continues to live and breathe the message of undeserved, unmerited forgiveness and kindness.

The middle choice is the one we all understand. It seems reasonable, just, and altogether acceptable to do to them as they have done to us. While most all would stop short at killing, no one is questioned for answering rudeness with rudeness, anger for anger, hatred for hatred, on and on. It is as if the Golden Rule was, “Treat others in the same way they have treated you.” Jesus gave what we call the Golden Rule for relationships when he said, “However you want others to treat you, treat them in that manner.” He said that to a wide variety of hundreds and hundreds of people who listened to Him speak on the mount. But Jesus upgraded that standard for His followers. He said to those of us who have chosen to follow, “Love others in the same way that I have loved you” (John 13:34). THAT is supernatural. Jesus has called us to this way of kindness that wins the world and reaps a major blessing.

  • To love others as Jesus has loved us seems unreasonable and is unnatural. We need supernatural help. Pray now about it.