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DO NOT Commit Random Acts of Kindness

A while back a bumper sticker read: “Commit Random Acts of Kindness”

The Bumper sticker is wrong. Christians are called to a way of life; not random acts, but habitual practice. We are called to practice that which reflects God’s own character and righteousness. It is said, “Justice is one side of the coin of love, the other side is Mercy.” Both the Old and New Testament proclaim mercy as characteristic of God.

“[B]ut God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7, ASV).

Notice the emphasis on:

Rich in Mercy
Great in Love
By Grace
Demonstrates the exceeding riches of his Grace and Kindness

“And Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”(Exodus 34:6-7).

Notice the parallels to the emphasis above:

Rich in Mercy
Forgiving – Grace and Kindness in action

Jesus took our sins upon himself, bearing those sins, and paid the due penalty for our sins. Forgiveness is not a free-pass; someone paid. We love to talk about God’s mercy, but we’re somewhat troubled by the second part of Exodus 34:7. The part that says:

“…and that will by no means clear the guilty…”(Exodus 34:7).

God forgives, yet refuses to declare the guilty innocent. It is in Jesus that God shows how he can justify (acquit) the transgressor and still remain just (Romans 3:26). So great is his mercy, he pays the judicial wrath against sin, bearing the penalty we have earned.

Justice is rendering to each their due, protecting rights and punishing the guilty, whereas within mercy, is included the idea of not rendering earned punishment. God mercifully does not call us into account for our sinful acts immediately, but grants time for repentance. God’s mercy brings with it the full weight of responsibility to practice mercy.

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). “Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

In the story of the good Samaritan Jesus asked:

“Which of these three, thinkest thou, proved neighbor unto him that fell among the robbers? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. And Jesus said unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:36-37).

Twice Jesus quoted Hosea: “I desire mercy not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13 and 12:7). Among the Hebrew words we translate “mercy” is Hesed, there is no precise English equivalent to the word. This characteristic of God covers the ideas of goodness, kindness, and compassion. It is closely related to the Greek “charis” which we translate as “grace”. Love (agape) does more than just practice justice. Justice (mispat) renders each their due, but love goes beyond simple rights and protections. Mercy is to be practiced by those who have known God’s mercy.

“For the one who has shown no mercy will be judged without mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

Rather than “random acts of kindness,” love incorporates Hesed into our daily practice toward all those who are made in the image of God.

by Scott Wiley