A friend of mine had a catastrophic stroke a few years ago which left him paralyzed and angry with the world. I met him shortly after his stroke, when he started to attend our church. Over the past few years God has been healing his heart, even though his physical condition still makes his daily life overwhelming challenging. Each week I bring groceries to his apartment, since shopping is very difficult for him. Recently we were chatting as I dropped off his groceries, and he told me about an experience he had with a neighbor in which he helped them take out their trash. For those of us who have full use of our bodies, it wouldn’t seem like a big deal, but because of my friend’s physical condition, it was a very big deal for him, requiring significant effort.
As he shared his story, I realized he was talking about a neighbor that I know he doesn’t really care for - so I brought that up, and asked why he decided to help. His response was: “You don’t have to like someone to be kind to them.” Wow - what a simple, and amazing reminder of how God calls us to live! Jesus puts it like this in Luke 6:35: “Love your enemies! Do good to them.” And then the Apostle Paul follows that up with: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other.” (Ephesians 4:31-32). In other words, we’re called to love others, and be kind to them - even if (or especially when!) we don’t particularly like them.
So today, let’s follow my friend's advice. Let’s allow God’s great love to direct us in our thoughts and words and actions, leading us to be kind to others – even when that kindness is difficult and costly.