Advent Devotional: Be Kind

They must not speak bad of anyone, and they must not argue. They should be gentle and kind to all people.  Titus 3:2

What does the Advent season mean for the lives of those who follow Jesus? It can be easy to remember the mercy and grace that was poured out on the world when God sent his own son to be a sacrifice for all sin. It is a different thing altogether to remember just what that means for the way we live our lives, interact with our neighbors, and exist in a world that will not always see things the way God does.

The Christmas season can be a great time of year. A lot of people seem more friendly than usual and we are quick to give blessings and receive unexpected kindnesses. What a great thing to be associated with the birth of our King Jesus! However, we know that for many of us, that wellspring of joy can quickly dry up. In fact, the holidays can serve as a way to distract us from our less-than-jolly “normal” lives.

In Titus, we are confronted with the reality that Jesus isn’t only the “reason for the season” but he is the reason behind how we live every day. How will I approach my coworker about a potentially difficult problem? How do I reflect Jesus when I am stuck in line at the DMV? How can I ever let go of the anger I feel when I speak to someone who has hurt me in the past? You see most of the time, we aren’t dealing with holiday stress, we are dealing the with stress of our everyday lives. For the Christians being addressed in Titus, this everyday stress included a real worry that their entire lives could be disrupted, or even ended, because they followed Jesus.

It is in this world that Paul delivers a message that may have been difficult for people to understand or even hear: be kind (Titus 3:2). Yes, in this passage he says to live upright lives, to follow Jesus’ example by being morally driven, even to submit to others’ authority. But it must have been difficult in a situation where it seemed like the world was against you to be told to “be kind.” In reality, we are God’s chosen people, forgiven and promised with new life because of God’s kindness. This is the quality and type of kindness Jesus expects us to have, a kindness that reflects everything we know about how kind He is and has been to us. Mother Teresa said, “We shall never know all the good a simple smile can do.” As we greet each other with simple smiles this season, let’s remember the kindness that should be behind it. The type of kindness that is an emptying, humbling acknowledgement of the kindness that Jesus has brought into our lives and woven in to our DNA. More importantly, let us not let our smiles stop with the new year, but pray that as we strive to Live Jesus, that we don’t forget to Give Jesus through kindness.

You are loved!

Jon