You are the look on Christ’s face. You are the tone of his voice. You are the touch of his hands. —Paul Tripp.
The phrase, “as undependable as intermittent streams,” jumped out at me from my daily Bible reading. Actually, it did more than jump.
It described me.
The line comes from the center of Job 6:14-17 (NIV) where Job is responding to the way he is being treated by those around him, most notably, his “friends.”
A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends,
even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams,
as the streams that overflow
when darkened by thawing ice
and swollen with melting snow,
but that stop flowing in the dry season,
and in the heat vanish from their channels.
Job is struggling. He has endured great loss and disappointment in life. He is in the depths of despair, so much so that he is engaging in the unthinkable—he is questioning and doubting God.
Right or wrong, Job is in need. He doesn’t want answers, guidance, correction, sympathy, pity, or opinion from those around him. All he wants and needs is a little kindness.
But Job’s friends are fickle. In season they gush and out of season they sear. At Job’s point of need they are nothing but undependable, dried up streams.
And like I said, this described me.
Kindness is an exception in our world today. It is so extraordinary that movies are being made about it (e.g., Same Kind of Different as Me and Wonder). Why is it such an anomaly? Why is it so hard for us to exude? Why is kindness the last thing on our minds and in our hearts as we go about life?
The news feeds are full of finger-pointing, finding fault, assigning blame and . . . being right. In the midst of it all, kindness is scarce. Being right is good, and doing right is even better, but how we get there is most important.
Being right and doing right should never be realized through pride, sarcasm, a mean-sprit, a judgmental attitude or a harsh word. And if by chance we are right, it does not necessitate that we also “make a point,” and a strong one at that.
Even when it comes to the things of God, things that we feel strongly about, the gravitas of an issue never supersedes a kind response and interaction with another. In instances of correction and discipline it is feared that kindness will be misconstrued as a condoning of the undesired choices or behaviors, but this is a lie. Kindness is never out of place.
Christians can be right, but if we are not kind, we are wrong.
—Sean Palmer, Unarmed Empire
Kindness emanates from the very heart of God. It is listed as a fruit of the Spirit—one of the key characteristics and evidences of God in this world. It is a means by which God calls people unto salvation.
“God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4, ESV).
Kindness is what we see in the life of Jesus as he touches lepers, welcomes sinners and loves the unlovely. Even on the cross, in the face of extreme injustice, kindness imbues Jesus’ words, “Father forgive them . . .”
Kindness is a choice, but after years of falling short, I realize that I can’t do it on my own. I need help with this dried up stream that is my heart. So, I look to Jesus, who says,
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38, ESV)
A dried up creek bed or a river of living water—which will I be? The difference is life-changing and is made manifest through kindness. If God’s kindness leads us to repentance what might my kindness do?
As a Christ-follower, I am an ambassador. I am the look on Christ’s face, the tone of his voice and the touch of his hand to the world around me. No amount of brow beating, guilt, coercion or shaming will turn a wayward heart, but God’s kindness calls us all home. So what am I to do?
I will pray for God’s help and heed the words of Henry James,
Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
I want this to describe me.