Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
There are places and situations that evoke certain emotional and behavioral responses in me. At the gym, I’m competitive. At work, I try to be professional. In a political discussion, I’m antagonistic. Today though, is Christmas, and all week leading up to it, I’ve felt compelled to be, well, nicer. I don’t think I’m a Scrooge the rest of the year, but during the Christmas season, I find myself wanting to be kinder and to do more for coworkers, friends, and neighbors. Because Christ has shown his love to me, I want to share that love with others. So, I’ve said and done kind things in the past week that I hadn’t done all year. Basically, Christmas has made me more loving to those around me.
This is a good thing. On introspection though, if I had one critique, it’s that my kindness shouldn’t be confined to one week of the year. In today’s passage, Paul taught that God came to Earth in the form of Jesus to offer us forgiveness of our sins. He came to love us, transform us, and to save us from ourselves. If we’ve experienced this, then the only appropriate response is to Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. This isn’t something we should do a couple days out of the year. Kindness is meant to be a way of life.
How do others know me? At one point in my life, in my addiction, others knew me as incredibly selfish, dishonest, and self-destructive. I’m sober now, but I’m far from perfect. I suspect that there are some at work who still know me as impatient and self-centered. Anyone I’ve had a Covid discussion with, may find me arrogant and narrow-minded.
As followers of Christ, we are supposed to stand out. What we often stand out for though, isn’t for our kindness. We fear that love will be misinterpreted as approval or endorsement. So, in the name of truth, we find ourselves letting others know how much we look down on them. In doing so, Christians have often been most recognizable for our contempt, hate, and disapproval. We’re not good at expressing truth and love, so we often err on the side of truth, abandoning love.
If we truly follow Christ though, and if we’ve been saved by him, then Paul said our lives must be marked by kindness. We don’t need to abandon truth, but because of what God has done for us, we should be the most loving people the world knows. For us, every day should be Christmas.