Better than they deserve

“It’s nice to be nice to the nice.” That little bit of folk wisdom comes from the great philosopher Frank Burns, surgeon with the 4077th M.A.S.H. unit. It’s not too hard to sweeten up for people who treat you well. It’s way harder to treat people better than they deserve.

And yet that’s exactly what Christ asks us to do (for it’s exactly how he lived his life, and exactly the concept behind his gospel mission to bring forgiveness to the world). Here is St. Paul’s take: “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thessalonians 5:15). That’s hard! We all fantasize about payback when harm is done to us. We all know how to dish it back when some slight or insult is dished to us.

Kindness means treating the people around you better than they deserve (and doing it without bitterness, sarcasm, condescension, or anticipation of cashing in on possible heavenly rewards). Kindness means that you prefer to praise others than to be praised . . . that you let others go first . . . that you look for good in people who others say are failures . . . that you notice and acknowledge people low on the totem pole more readily than sucking up to the lofty . . . that you let go of yesterday’s resentments and look for the good other people are doing today.

Kindness means that you find more joy in mercy than retribution.

Pastor Mark Jeske brought the good news of Jesus Christ to viewers of Time of Grace for 18 years. He is currently the senior pastor at St. Marcus Church, a thriving multicultural congregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mark is the author of several books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics. He and his wife, Carol, have four adult children.


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