Saturday, June 16, 2018

Slander versus Kindness

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11).

Slander is one of the most vicious and destructive of all sins. Jesus promises us that if we are faithful to Him, there will be times when destructive lies will be told about us. He tells us to “rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (v. 12). He promises that sooner or later, God Himself will vindicate us, if not in this world, then in the next.

The opposite of this kind of viciousness is kindness, a virtue that is not talked about enough. I can think of no more godly virtue in all creation than personal kindness. What greater compliment can you receive than to be known for your kindness?

One of the things that hit me about Pope John Paul I, who only held office for a month or so, was his evident kindness. After he was elected pope, he presented himself before the throng in Vatican City, and he was smiling. It was a smile of delight, and it captured the world because he was so evidently a kind and approachable man.

The kind person does not have his head in the sand but is characterized by the “philosophy of the second glance”—the glance of charity. Before he jumps to the conclusion that what you are doing is malicious, corrupt, wicked, or irredeemable, the kind person gives you the benefit of the doubt. The kind person says, “Yes, I know his behavior is unacceptable, but I wonder why? I wonder why he is so angry?” The kind person knows that the sinner’s behavior is evil but that does not mean that he is irredeemable.

Every Christian is a victim of slander, but every Christian is also a recipient of God’s kindness. If God would judge us as we judge each other, we would all be damned. One of the reasons we listen to Jesus is that He is kindness, even though He is also intolerant of sin and uncompromising in His allegiance to the righteousness of God.

How kind are you? Write out a list of the people who have alienated you. Have you given them the “second glance”? Perhaps you have, and you have finally given up on them. God may not have given them up, though. We are to be kind to all people, and this takes effort. Make the effort today. Pray over each name on your list.