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Lenten Reflections: The Discipline of Kindness

'Helping hand' photo (c) 2011, Judit Klein - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Friday, Feb. 22, 2013

Lectionary passages:

Judges 12: 1-7
Mark 2: 13-22
Hebrews 4: 11-16

By Helen Joseph

In studying the three Bible passages above, several important lessons came to light—all of them pertinent today. In the verses from Judges, Jephthah led Israel’s forces in a victory over the enemy, the Ammonites. Shortly after this he was involved in war with the tribe of Ephraim over a misunderstanding. The men of Ephraim were upset that they were not included in the battle against the Ammonites, but Jephthah said he had called them to help. This misunderstanding led to the deaths of thousands. Communication is such a key issue in relationships. So many unfortunate things can happen if we don’t communicate and try to “hear” what someone is saying.

The passage from Mark cites some events in the life of Jesus that help reveal who he really is.  The actions of Jesus speak much louder than any words. In those days, tax collectors were hated by the Jews because of their reputation for cheating and their support of Rome. The Pharisees were upset when they saw Jesus dining with many tax collectors and sinners. Are we guilty of avoiding certain people because of generalizations? In the end of this passage Jesus tells us not to put new wine in old wineskins.  In other words, be flexible and open to accepting Jesus’ message that will change our lives.

In Hebrews, we are reminded that the “word of God is living and active” and “before him no creature is hidden." He knows us so well, but loves us still.  We should take comfort in the fact that when Jesus was on Earth he experienced many temptations, so he can sympathize with us when we make mistakes.

The following prayer is from an unknown author.

PRAYER:  Lord, I am called to kindness each day, but there are days that this call seems beyond my abilities or my discipline.  And there are days when I simply don’t want to be kind— not to him or to her.  Or, I simply want to be witty and humorous—even if it is at the expense of another.  I want to be smart and incisive, even at the cost of someone’s feelings.  Help me to remember that my call is to be kind, as you were kind.

Help me to practice the discipline of kindness—of putting others first and thinking of how I can offer your love to them.  May your kindness touch those I meet, through my words and deeds.  Amen.

Helen Joseph is a member of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, in Washington, D.C. This post is reprinted, with permission,  from NYAPC's 2013 Lenten Meditations booklet.

 

« A Hunger for Advocacy: Derick Dailey Lenten Reflections: Amazing Faith »

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