Meditations for Troubled Times
“And David said, ‘Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?’ Ziba said to the king, ‘There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.’” (2 Samuel 9:3-4)
“I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” (Philemon 1:10 -16)
What would you say is the definition of Christian kindness? What do we learn from the actions of David in 2 Samuel 9 in showing God’s loving kindness to Mephibosheth? David is king and does not have to impress anyone, much less use his resources to take care of anyone. Or does he? In David’s plan, he offers protection, housing, riches, and food for Mephibosheth. Does not the Word call us to do the same for our brothers in need? (Colossians 3:12)
Consider Paul’s words and actions in the book of Philemon. Paul is in prison and with him is a runaway slave named Onesimus. Here Paul is being artful with his words to make a profound point in the mind of Philemon (as well as us). The name Onesimus means useful or profitable. Paul substitutes a word for useful in verse 11 that is related to kindness (moral usefulness) in Galatians 5:22. He employs useless (not of use) and useful (of good use). Paul says he is working to make Onesimus a good and useful slave for Philemon as well as a beloved brother. Onesimus makes one more appearance in Colossians 4 and is described as faithful.
Kindness should flow from our sanctification through deeds as defined by the Word of God. James declares, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed, and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body what use is that?”
Do you see what James is emphasizing? He repeats, what use or what profit is there in your faith if you don’t show kindness toward other believers? It is in the DNA of believers to show kindness to one another not by random acts but with purposeful, intentional, and consistent kindness as King David did to Mephibosheth. We should follow this statement by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Let us then always work out the implications of what we say and do.” (Spiritual Depression, page 185)
As church officers we know about the deliberate use of kindness working continuously through the saints of Grace. This has certainly been the case during the pandemic through kind words and anonymous material gifts to others. I personally received this grace in the gifts of a huge bag of kind letters, texts, and emails in my isolation in the hospital. These gifts not only encouraged me and my family but also the staff taking care of me.
See the richness of grace from Christ Jesus: “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)
Are you thankful for the heirship you received from the kindness of God? This was the position given to Mephibosheth. His reaction to David was this: “What is your servant, that you should be concerned about a dead dog like me?”
Loving one another should leave no room in our hearts for arrogance. Dr. Gene Getz writes regarding Titus 3, “Putting it more specifically: no saved person who truly understands the Grace of God in his own life can approach any person with arrogance, pride or a sense of superiority.” (Building Up One Another, page 83)
May we not forget: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)