At Libraries and video rental stores, all the VHS cassette tapes had stickers on them that said “Be kind. Rewind!” so that people would remember to rewind the tape to the beginning of the reel so the next person to check it out wouldn’t have to. I sure hope I remembered to do that, but I’m sure there must have been some times when I forgot. Wouldn’t that be nice if it worked that way in real life? If you were unkind to someone, you could rewind the day and do it over again right? Unfortunately, that’s not in our power to do.
We live in an unkind world. If you don’t believe me, try driving somehwere and see how everyone reacts to each other. We scramble for position at work, uncaring who gets run over in the process. We bowl people over in the supermarket or the toy stores trying to buy exactly what we want exactly when we want it. If someone makes an honest mistake, like over charging us at a restaurant or whatever, we get impatient and unhappy and we don’t rest until that person understands just how badly they’ve wronged us and how much it either hurt our feelings or inconvenienced us.
Ephesians 4:32 says:
32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
The plain and simple truth, folks, is that we screw up. We make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. So we need to make allowances for that. We need to understand that just like we make mistakes, other people make mistakes too. And being mean to someone about it doesn’t do any good. It makes you a bully and it hurts the other person.
Well, what about the opposite side of that? What if you’re the nice person and someone has been mean to you?
It happens. It happens a lot. Any kindness you show to anyone else in this world usually backfires on you, and if that person doesn’t chew you out anyway, they figure out that they can use you. I can tell you that I have been used and manipulated more times than I care to admit, mainly because I always try to be kind to people. But if you are kind to people, whether they are followers or Christ or not sadly enough, you take the chance that people will take advantage of you. And when that happens, we are supposed to be kind to each other, forgiving each other just like Jesus forgave us. That begs the question, how did He forgive us?
The best term that comes to mind is unconditionally. There are no limitations on His forgiveness, and once you ask for it He never takes it away or brings it up again. We can take a lesson from that kind of forgiveness. If you say you forgive someone, honestly forgive them and don’t keep reminding them of how they wronged you. He also unconditionally forgave us no matter what we have done. It doesn’t matter how dark or depraved our sins are, His blood is strong enough to cover all of it.
So when you get right down to it, we need to forgive each other in spite of what people have done to us, in spite of what they might do to us in the future, and once we forgive them, we need to remember not to remind people of the past.
It’s not our job to be someone else’s Holy Spirit. Granted, we can lovingly call someone on their sin, but it’s not our job to make someone else feel guilty for the way they’ve treated us. It’s our job to forgive them and keep loving them. And to me, that takes the stress and pressure off me because convincing someone else that they’re wrong is a painstaking, laborious process that I’m ill-equipped for. It’s so much easier to just leave it up to God because I have my hands full trying to control my own actions!
Be kind to each other. And when someone isn’t kind back to you, forgive them and keep being kind until God thwacks them on the head and makes them understand that what they’re doing is wrong.