ODJ: the opposite spirit

June 29, 2014 

READ: 2 Samuel 9:1-13 

The king then asked him, “Is anyone still alive from Saul’s family? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them” (v.3).

A few years ago I worked as a supply teacher in Birmingham, England. I initially embraced the help of the teaching assistant, but when she started taking over in class I was tempted to give in to resentment and insecurity. Instead, I decided to act in a way opposite to what I felt by vocalising my genuine appreciation of her, praying for her and challenging her in love. When it came time for me to leave my position, she gave me a gift and a thank you card. Acting in the opposite spirit had disarmed a teaching assistant who might have felt threatened and unappreciated.

David acted in the opposite spirit towards King Saul who was intent on killing him (1 Samuel 18:10-11, 19:1,9-11). He spared Saul’s life on two occasions (24:4, 26:8), and even after his death, David (who was now king) deliberately looked for anyone from Saul’s family to whom he could show kindness (2 Samuel 9:1). A servant found Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth for the king. The man was crippled in both feet due to an accident that occurred when he was a child (4:4). David promised to take care of him and his family for the rest of his days (9:10).

The Lord loves and rewards us when we reach out with kindness to others who have mistreated us (Proverbs 25:21-22). David is described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), and his determination to consistently honour his enemy and the Lord’s anointed (King Saul) gives us a glimpse into the kind of heart God loves.

Just as the kindness of the Lord has helped us turn away from a life of sin (Romans 2:4), our kindness towards those who have wronged us may help turn them to God. —Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Matthew 5:17-30 ‹365-day plan

Read Romans 12:17-21 and consider what it says about conquering evil with good. 
Who has been unkind to you or treated you poorly? Choose to act in the opposite spirit towards them—loving them and intentionally showing kindness. 

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ODJ: heavy lifting

June 2, 2014 

READ: Philemon 1:4-10 

Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people (v.7).

An elderly man saw me struggling to carry a heavy box from my car to the post office. Rather than let his age, a pronounced limp or hot weather deter him, he rushed to my assistance.

I thanked the man, and then I thanked God for sending some kind assistance my way. Benevolence cheers hearts. This was proclaimed by the apostle Paul in his letter to co-labourer Philemon. “Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother,” Paul wrote, “for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people” (Philemon 1:7). Like Philemon, as we “understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ”, we will be prompted to put into action the generosity that should mark our faith (1:6).

Our kindness glorifies God and can lead to blessing for us. But, on the other hand, cruelty will destroy us! (Proverbs 11:17). Hurtful words, selfishness and angry reactions destroy relationships and tear people down.

When I act unkindly, I’m often quick to blame circumstances or people for my behaviour. God continues to reveal to me, however, that I’m responsible for my own reactions. And even when I’m offended, He wants me—and all His children—to “judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another” (Zechariah 7:9).

The Lord desires for His children to increasingly display the quality of being kind, generous and considerate. “Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!” He exhorts. “Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart” (Proverbs 3:3).

Our “wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient God” longs for us to respond to His goodness by turning from our sins and sharing His kindness with others (Romans 2:4, 12:8). —Roxanne Robbins
365-day plan› Daniel 6:1-28

How have you experienced the truth of Romans 11:22? 

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ODB: Acts Of Kindness

April 22, 2014 

READ: Acts 4:1-13 

By the name of Jesus . . . , whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. —Acts 4:10 

I was traveling with some men when we spotted a family stranded alongside the road. My friends immediately pulled over to help. They got the car running, talked with the father and mother of the family, and gave them some money for gasoline. When the mother thanked them over and over, they replied, “We’re glad to help out, and we do it in Jesus’ name.” As we drove away, I thought how natural it was for these friends to help people in need and acknowledge the Lord as the source of their generosity.

Peter and John exhibited that same joyful generosity when they healed a lame man who was begging outside the temple in Jerusalem (Acts 3:1-10). This led to their arrest and appearance before the authorities who asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” Peter replied, “If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man . . . let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole” (Acts 4:7-10).

Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and a powerful context in which to genuinely speak to others about the Lord.

— David C. McCasland

Lord, help me to love with both words and deeds,
To reach out to others and meet their needs;
Lord, burden my heart for those lost in sin,
With mercy and love that flows from within. —Fitzhugh

One act of kindness may teach more about the love of God than many sermons. 

ODJ: gift of your smile

February 25, 2014 

READ: 1 John 4:7-12 

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us (v.12).

The late film director Krzysztof Kieslowski was once interviewing actors for a film. During an interview, a young actress described to him how she’d go out and walk the streets of Paris when she felt sad.

As Kieslowski probed further he learned that 6 years earlier the actress had been close to a breakdown. One day she went out onto the street where she caught sight of the famous French mime artist Marcel Marceau—now a very old man. The actress walked past him, then stopped and turned to give him another glance. Marceau also stopped and turned. He then gave her a big smile lasting several seconds. “He saved me then,” the actress said. Kieslowski and the actress pondered whether all the performances Marceau had ever given could compare with to the fact that he helped save a young actress with his smile.

Like that actress, millions in our communities walk through life wondering if they matter to anyone. You can reassure them. The apostle John tells us to put our love into action (1 John 3:18). What simpler act of love is there than smiling at someone you pass on the street? While others avoid eye contact, showing indifference, you can imitate the God who is love (4:7-8). His giving love is revealed through our loving acts (vv.9-12). The gift of your smile shows that you care enough to acknowledge their existence and their great value.

Drive-through restaurants and self-service checkout lanes go against friendliness. Things like these make it easy to live without looking anyone in the eye. As an act of discipleship, let’s go out of our way to meet people and smile at them. You never know—someone in crisis might just taste God’s grace because of it. —Sheridan Voysey

Read Acts 10:38 and note why Jesus was able to do good and brighten the lives of others. 
How will you apply the simple act of smiling at others today? In some cultures, eye contact is considered confrontational. What’s a good alternative?  

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