As this devotion is being written, Christmas has passed. Traditionally, this season sees a sharp increase in the charitable contributions made, even considering the major natural disasters experienced by much of the world. We also witness an increase in significant acts of kindness, compared to other times during the year.
According to Torah, the Life Instructions of our Benevolent God, kindness is an attribute of human beings expected throughout the year, not just at one particular time period. This command is given to us in Deuteronomy 15, where we find, you must give to him (your neighbour – those in need); and you are not to be grudging when you give to him. Called chesed in Hebrew, kindness is a defining characteristic. One who displays kindness is call tsaddik, ‘a righteous one’. Why is it so difficult for us to display kindness throughout the year, to everyone we meet?
One important reality – the human heart yearns for love and affection; this may be seen in many portions of Scripture. For example, we read in Psalm 84, My soul yearns, yes, faints with longing for the courtyards of Adonai; my heart and body cry for joy to the living God. What does yearning for God have to do with our perspective of kindness? Simply put, our desire to be kind to others comes from Adonai Tzva’ot. In her book, Deregulating God, Carline Bawden quotes Tolstoy, who wrote, God dwells in all of us and man recognizes God in himself through love and extends this love to all men. Bawden continues, God finds this pleasing because the energy of love heals hunger, illnesses, nakedness, joblessness, abuse and so on.
For the believer, the root of kindness is to be found in Ruach HaKadosh, the Holy Spirit of the Living God, as we read in Galatians 5:22. If we have the Fruit of the Spirit, then within us has been unleashed an attitude of love and care for all around us. These are not passive concepts; one does not merely hold within love and care – these are active – we display our love and our care through the way we treat others, particularly those less fortunate than ourselves.
Back to the question – Why is it so difficult for us to display kindness throughout the year, to everyone we meet? Unfortunately, the vast majority of us are lonely; we do not want to allow others into our bubbles of loneliness and, therefore, we do not reach out to others until some major disaster propels us. Otherwise, we feel sadness about the plight of others in need but do nothing to help alleviate their needs. Or, as so often happens, we blame the victim for her/his/their plight and congratulate ourselves that we have been able to avoid their situations, through our own efforts – how sad is that.
Beloved, I urge you to look at your own position in life and search out its source – Yahweh, God Himself. How many ‘coincidences’ have led to your success? Can we honestly say and be convinced that everything which has come to us has been solely through our own efforts? If we take this course, then we have much in common with Charles Dicken’s Scrooge, before his transformation. Does this quote from the mouth of Scrooge resonate with you: It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly?
And now the final word, particularly to believers in the One True Elohim, the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob: Everyone will know that you are my talmidim (Disciples) by the fact that you have love for each other. (John 13:35)
CONSIDER: Where is your heart? Have you accepted Yahweh’s invitation to be His vessel for extending loving-kindness to others? Do you have a desire to help others, throughout the year? If your answer to these question is focused on yourself and your own needs, what has happened to the kindness with which you were born?
ACTION: I challenge you to this experiment: select one person or community organization in need and give of yourself for three months. Then take stock and see if there is any change in how you think about and approach others.
PRAY: Abba, Father, I want to be able to rid myself of the loneliness within me. Please help me to change my focus from myself and my condition in life to others around me. Help me to show kindness to others as a defining characteristic. In Your Beloved Name I pray.
May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.