Rather, love your enemies, help them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then you will have a great reward. You will be the children of the Most High God. After all, he is kind to unthankful and evil people. Be merciful as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35
God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
That is amazing.
When we treat “undeserving” people with kindness, THAT defines us as children of the Most High God.
The word for kind is chrestos — meaning kind AND useful. There is no parallel in our language — no word that means you are kind and you are good at the same time.
So God isn’t just kind, his kindness is GOODNESS. And when we are nice to those who aren’t going to be nice back — who are secretly thinking ugly things, who sneer, who are shallow, who only care about themselves or worldly pursuits — then we exemplify the goodness of God.
And more than this, the word for ungrateful is acharistos, meaning the exact opposite of charis, which is grace. A person who displays charis extends favor to others, and freely forgives them. The word denotes thankfulness. So the person who is acharistos is the person who can’t give grace or favor to others, who is so caught up in bitterness that they cannot forgive, they cannot be thankful.
Such a person isn’t just ungrateful, they can’t see a way to be grateful, they can’t see a way to extend kindness. Really, they can’t UNDERSTAND goodness, they have no point of reference.
It reminds me of a question I saw that someone posed to John Oakes: “How do we know God loves us when we don’t see that love, in fact we see our loved ones dying, and doors being closed?”
My answer to this question would be that God IS showing His love to them in numerous ways, every day, but they are missing it. He gives us family and friends. He takes care of our needs. He surrounds us with beauty. He allows us to know and worship Him. All these things are evidence of His tender constant love.
So in being kind to the ungrateful and the wicked, God is giving to those who, in a sense, spit in the face of His love and attention. It’s like this passage in Ezekiel 16 —
On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. “But I came by and saw you there, helplessly kicking about in your own blood. As you lay there, I said, ‘Live!’
I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. . . . So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour.
But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his.
We have nice things. We have good food. For those of us who are disciples, God reached out and made us His children.
Really, we are the ungrateful and the wicked as well. Do we really see? Are we really appreciative for all the God does for us? Do we love Him with all our heart, or other things as well?
Jesus goes on to say in Luke 6, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful. Stop judging, and you will never be judged.”
When we realize God’s kind and good nature, how can we not be merciful to those around us? Why would we point a finger at them and say they are wicked, when we realize how blind we can be, and how undeserving we are of His ministrations?
This morning, I am struggling because my feelings are very hurt. Doing this study is like balm to my wounds. How can I be so upset with this person and their supposed fault in what they did? How can I not remember God’s gracious goodness to me?
It is as Ezekiel 16 concludes:
Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign Lord.