Monday, October 7, 2013

Rage vs. Kindness

Growing up my father showed quite a bit of rage either through yelling, throwing things, or hitting. He definitely yelled more than anything else and it was scary. He would get so frustrated out of no where or over what seemed like nothing, but to him it was always huge enough to raise his voice loud enough to just about raise the roof.

I remember one time he had come into the house with my mother from grocery shopping and told me very angrily to help put the food away. He was already angry, without any of us kids doing something to set him off, so I found a quiet spot on the floor with a bag filled with canned dog food and started to load the lower cabinet with it. It was a safe place and out of the I had thought. Before I knew it I was yanked off the floor by my father. He began yelling at me. At first I was so just so startled, but then just so scared. I didn't even know what I had done. Then he pushed me back down on the floor and pushed my face close to the cans on the shelf and said, "Is this really how you think you are going to put the food away in this house??!!!!"

I had no idea what I had done wrong. I put the cans on the shelf. With much more yelling I concluded that I did not stack them perfectly on top of one another and didn't organize them by the different kinds of meats. He wanted the chicken cans to be stacked on top of the chicken cans, and the beef on top of beef, etc.

I was humiliated. I was shaking. I was confused. I was frightened. I felt unloved.

Had my job of putting the cans on the shelf been so horrible?

My father wanted an apology from me, but I was so shaken that I couldn't think straight. He continued to yell and rant until I figured it out.
I whispered, "I'm sorry."
He yelled back, "It took you long enough!" As he walked away he looked back and said, "Don't let it happen again!"

What had I learned? First, I learned to fear my father. I learned that I never wanted to put food away again. I learned that I couldn't ever do anything right- not even something as simple as putting the dog food cans on a shelf. I learned that there was nothing good about me. I was not worth loving because I was simply useless. I finished the job and walked away in shame.

That is one example of  how rage handles a situation, but how does Kindness handle it?

In Matthew 1:19 we read about Joseph and Mary.

19 "Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[a] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly."

Here was a man that I think we'd all agree had a right to get upset and yell. His fiance was found pregnant and it wasn't his baby! He could have announced it in the temple, had her and her family put to shame, had her stoned, but no, he chose kindness. He didn't agree with her story. He didn't understand it. All of his dreams of marrying her were gone. He was confused, but he still chose kindness.  

So, what does the Bible tell or show us about God's kindness? God's kindness is shown throughout the Bible, but I have to tell you one of my favorite stories from the Gospels is the story of Zaccheus. Here's a guy that the whole town hates and it's not because he's small, it's because he's a robbing, chief tax collector. Now everyone wanted to be around Jesus, but the road was mobbed with people, all pushing in and around Him. So, Zacchaeus decides to climb up a tree so he can at least see Jesus as He walks down the road. As Jesus approaches Zacchaeus, He stops and looks up at him. Golly, the things Jesus could have said! Jesus knows the heart - He knows all of our sin. Jesus could have called Zaccheus out on each and every sin, but instead Jesus invites himself over to Zaccheus' house. Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5)Jesus was didn't allow the sin in the man's life to keep Himself from bringing Zacchaeus into the truth of God's love and forgiveness.

So, Jesus goes to Zacchaeus home, and we don't know how long they were together, but the end result of Jesus' kindness to this wealthy, cheater was this:

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:8-9)

My summation: Kindness motivates. 

In Romans chapter two we read about how we judge others for their sin. How we must remember that we sin too and we should not judge. But then comes the reminder of how God handles us when He sees our sin, 

"...God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance..."

Did you allow that to ring inside your heart like it did mine?
Allow the bells of freedom, of kindness to ring!
His Kindness is intended to lead us to repentance- not His rage, not His anger, not His judgement or punishment. His kindness draws a repentant heart to Him. God is kind. God is gentle. Just as we see Him in the story of Zacchaeus.

Our God is kind. Remember that when you fall into sin. Remember that when you fall into sin again. Don't run from Him in shame. Do not fear Him. Jesus has made a way for us to walk boldly into the Holy of Holies, confess our sin, be washed clean and forgiven. 

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..." (Romans 8:1)

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." (Jeremiah 31:3)