Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Eph. 4:32).
My mother always said, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” I’m sure your mama did, too, right?
Kindness. Compassion. Consideration. Were these anyone’s “word of the year” for 2020?
Yes, this has been a rough year. For my family specifically, we lost our dog, my father-in-law, a job, and a car. None of these were COVID-related (except for the job). But the loss was felt just the same. And our hearts are heavy and broken and tired. We are so very tired.
But 2020 hasn’t been a hard year because of COVID-19. It hasn’t been a tough year because of rioting. It hasn’t even be a hard year because of the upcoming election. The number one problem with 2020 is that we have lost our humanity. We have forgotten how to be kind to each other.
This is not a political post. It’s not a “wear a mask/don’t wear a mask” post. No matter what side you’re on, you’re probably at least a little bit wrong. So, let’s step back for a minute and take a look at ourselves. At our humanity.
When did we stop seeing the person standing next to us as just that–a person? When did we lose the ability to communicate with one another in a respectful tone? When did we forget that the uniqueness that we now use to divide us is actually what makes us human and beautiful?
It’s not politics that divide us. It’s not the color of our skin. It’s not our religion or our income. We are divided because we have forgotten who we are–individuals created in the image of God.
We live next door to the most wonderful neighbors. They share with us. Their kids play with our kids. We walk into each other’s houses. We invite each other over for bonfires. And we could not have more different beliefs. But we don’t shy away from them. We have an open and honest dialogue with each other, and then we go our separate ways still friends. And we’ll play again with them tomorrow. That’s what humanity looks like.
We have other neighbors who look completely different from us. But we spend more time with them than we could even have hoped for. They are God’s gift to us. Knowing them is one of the greatest blessings we have had this year. We help each other, support each other, encourage each other, and pray for each other. That’s what humanity looks like.
If you’ve been following my blog for any time now, I hope you know that I am a devout Christian. I love God above all else, and I will talk about Him all day with you if you allow me to. But I have friends from all different beliefs–some atheists, some agnostics. We can relate to one another because we still recognize that we are humans in need of each other, in need of community.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor (Rom. 12:10).
Social media has opened a door for us to get on our platforms and say things about and to people that we never would have said to their face before. Social media has many benefits, but it has a lot of problems as well. One of them is that we can post something we feel strongly about and have a whole lot of comments from people who “support” that statement. Before long, that one comment sparks a “discussion” that turns into a debate that turns into hate speech.
But in Romans, Paul doesn’t just remind us to love one another. He tells us Christians to outdo one another in showing honor. He was telling us to go above and beyond in showing honor to others. To love others more than anyone else does. To be the best at it.
I’m speaking to my fellow Christians here because I feel that we are actually the most guilty. Election year seems to be especially bad. We put all our faith in one man from one political party, and everyone else is completely and utterly wrong. I have friends on both sides of the issue, and they all have strong feelings about why they chose their candidate and the issues they want resolved. And like I said before, we are all–at least a little bit–wrong.
In our pastor’s sermon this morning, one thing that he said really stuck out to me (paraphrased from Matt Williams): Don’t be so busy holding onto this kingdom that we lose sight of His Kingdom.
It’s so easy to get lost in all that has happened this year. It’s been a lot. None of us have been unchanged. We have all lost something. We have all been afraid. We have all been exhausted with life in general. But we don’t have to be defined by this year. Perhaps 2020 was a gift to us from God to reset our priorities–to outdo one another in love and honor. To remember our humanity.
It’s not too late to redeem 2020. We can change our social media posts to encourage one another. To honor people for the good they do. To see the best in one another.
Let’s end the year by giving heed to what Paul calls us to:
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Rom. 12:18).