“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (I Thess. 5:15)

As a school counselor (retired), I spent most of my counseling time working with students in conflict mediation. Often I would start out with two students and as information was given it oft times would grow to include maybe a half-dozen kids. The larger the group, the more difficult it was to maintain order and make any progress.

There is an effective technique for doing conflict mediation that worked most of the time. The other times could be filled with tension when one or both parties would rather be angry or vengeful. It was during those impasses, that I would occasionally stop everything and say, “I’ve got the solution.” As they looked at me I would say, “Why don’t you just be nice to each other.” Sometimes it would break the tension and maybe get a smile or a laugh.

Well, that’s a solution to world peace. Everyone just be nice to each other. If we treated each other, all the time, with kindness, what a wonderful world it would be (sounds like a line in a song). Of course human nature being what it is that’s not likely to happen.

The older I get the easier it seems to be kind. Maybe I just think I’m kinder because I have less energy to get into trouble . Like most people, my life has been a challenge in dealing with others, which is what we spend a lot of time doing. Like many others, I want to be right; my way is the best way; “You’re not the boss of me;” you hurt my feelings; “I get no respect,” and other slights that in too many instances have caused me to reply in kind rather than be kind. It is easy to find in the Bible teachings that exhort us to act just the exact opposite of all those.

It is oh-so-easy to be kind to those who first are kind to us. But that is not the test. The Bible says that if we love only those who love us, that’s no big deal. It takes nothing special, almost anyone can do that. Rather, being kind (loving) to those who may mistreat us and are unlovely, that is a big deal. It reveals God at work and the fruit of the Spirit operating. I have to remind myself that the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against satanic principalities and powers.

I believe II Peter 1:5-7 is a powerful exhortation, one that includes “kindness.” It states, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; an to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” Here Peter lists a succession of Christian virtues that seem to move from one to the other. He says to “add” each one to the others.

Faith – This is where it all begins.

Goodness  – I can remember as a new Christian of faith, I spent time observing others to get an idea of how a Christian should act.. It seemed like being “good” naturally followed, so I started trying to be good.

Knowledge – At the same time, thirst for learning about my new life was insatiable. I hung around a small Christian bookstore half my time. I wanted “knowledge” about God and his Word..

Self-control – The more I learned, the more He gave me a desire to order my life around Biblical truths. My old life was being dispensed with, Christian/self-discipline behavior was taking its place.

Perseverance – Consistency for the long haul was to persevere; I had to stay the course. Later I was able to understand the parable of the sower that explained why some do not persevere. God’s Word had been planted in fertile soil.

Godliness – Establishing habits takes time. I’ve often told students that if you do something enough times you cant’s help but learn it. So it is with developing Christian character; practice makes perfect.

Brotherly Kindness – Here we have finally progressed to “kindness.” The culmination of all the learning, discipline, stick-to-it, growth, is put into practice. But the ultimate is:

Love – Anyone who loves, is exhibiting God’s nature since God is love. However, agape love is the Holy Spirit induced love that is unlike what the world knows.

Peter goes on to say that if we posses these qualities in increasing measure, we will be effective and productive in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. I’ve often wished that my “increasing measure” would hurry up. The nice thing about God is, He puts within our hearts a desire to do all of these things even if we are not always successful in their application.

So, if you catch me being unkind, first of all consider the source, and secondly don’t excuse me, but take me to task, Jesus does.

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