Showing kindness in the COVID-19 era

Showing kindness in the COVID-19 era

King David once asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” — 2 Samuel 9:1, 3. Decades earlier, David had sworn to his friend Jonathan (then Israel’s prince) that he would never cut off his kindness from Jonathan’s family. — 1 Samuel 20:15. Since that promise, Jonathan had died, and David had established himself as king. Decades later, David recalled his nearly forgotten promise and looked for a chance to show God’s kindness for Jonathan’s sake.

We, too, have an outstanding debt to show God’s kindness to others. The Apostle Paul writes, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” — Romans 13:8.

We have an ongoing debt to love others because God forgives us. Jesus declared: “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little” — Luke 7:47. The converse is also true; whoever has been forgiven much loves much.

As spiritual rebels, we deserve to spend eternity separated from God. But through Jesus, we’ve been forgiven — Romans 6:23. God counts nothing against us. As a result, we have an outstanding debt we cannot repay. So, God tells us to pay it forward by loving others.

To whom should we show God’s kindness? First, we offer God’s kindness to people who’ve been good to us. Churches currently experience infighting as members debate whether to reopen. Some charge their fellow members with insensitivity to those with preexisting conditions. Others claim their fellow parishioners are caving to fear and lack faith.

Neither group is demonstrating love.

Second, we offer God’s kindness to people who’ve done nothing for us. The directors of our church recently considered whether to send a check to the woman who cleans the school where we meet.

This woman works for the local school district, which still pays her salary.

But she’s missing out on the extra income she received when she opened the school for us.

So we decided to pay her the full amount she would have received, before taxes, for the eight weeks she didn’t work for us. It’s not our fault the school closed its doors to us. It’s not her fault, either. We owe her nothing, but we have an outstanding debt to love others.

Finally, we offer God’s kindness to those who hate us. Social media provides a beautiful opportunity to demonstrate God’s kindness to those with whom we disagree. What if, instead of engaging in debate, we simply said to those who think we’re endangering people’s health or ruining the economy: “I appreciate your perspective, friend. You’ve given me much to think about. You may be right.” Who does that? The one who has an ongoing debt to love others.

If God’s forgiven us, we owe him our lives. The least we can do is love those around us, those who love us, those who don’t care, and those who hate us. That’s how we repay our outstanding debt to God.

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