by Rev. Tracy Hunter, Broadway and Reeves UMCs, Orlando, FL
First, read Ephesians 4:32
When I was a child, we played outside all the time. We played hide and seek. We played stickball. We roller skated, and we swam. Most of the time, everybody played nice and we had a great time. Sometimes, though, someone would do something that hurt somebody else or say something mean.
I learned a rhyme as a child: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Whenever I was hurt or left out of the game, I remembered this rhyme. Whenever I felt sad or angry or hurt by what someone said to me, I remembered this rhyme ... and sometimes I even said the words out loud. I didn’t want the other person to know they’d hurt my feelings by their unkind words or actions. I learned something, though.
That rhyme is not completely true. Yep, sticks and stones may break my bones. But words will hurt me, too.
What is true, though, is the Bible. And the Bible helps us to know how to treat everyone. One day, someone was trying to trick Jesus and asked him what the greatest rule was. There were over 600 rules in The Old Testament, and they wanted Jesus to pick only one. Jesus is smart, though. Jesus knew that they were trying to trick him, and he also knew all of the rules. He answered them. Jesus said, “Love God with your whole self. And love your neighbor as yourself. If you do these two things, you’ll be following all of the rules, too.”
Jesus wants us to love God and be kind to our neighbors. God knows that words can hurt. And today’s Bible reading from Ephesians reminds us that God loves us even when we’re the ones who hurt someone else. Just as God forgives us, we can forgive others. Whenever we hurt someone, we practice kindness by letting them know that we are sorry we hurt them AND that we’ll try hard not to do it again.
Be kind to one another.
God, we thank you for your loving kindness. We pray that you’ll help us to be kind to one another starting with our own family but reaching out to so many others. We are sorry that we've hurt people with things we've done or said. Thank you, God, for forgiving us and loving us anyway. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Today’s scripture is all about kindness and forgiveness. We don’t usually think of these words together. But, if we think about it, they really do go hand in hand. Showing kindness to others is not just about being nice to our friends and those who are kind to us. Sometimes, kindness means offering grace, mercy and forgiveness to those who have hurt us or those who are just really difficult to love. While it is nice to be kind to our friends, this scripture is actually calling us to show kindness to all people.
Talk with your kids about kindness and the people it might be difficult for them to love. Maybe it is someone at school. Maybe it is someone in your family. Let today’s scripture be a reminder to be kind no matter what. At breakfast time, ask each person in your family to think of someone who is difficult to love and make it a goal to offer kindness to them in some way. At dinnertime, talk about your day and how it went. How did it feel to show kindness to someone you usually avoid or dislike?
What are other ways you can show kindness to others this Christmas season?