Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? Perhaps the driver ahead of you paid your bridge toll. Or someone picked up the tab for your coffee at the drive-thru. When that happens, it gives us a great feeling and motivates us to pass it on.
When we come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord, we have received the greatest kindness ever offered: the gift of a reconciled life with the one true, living God. But the forgiveness He extends does not end with us. We are called to forgive others as we have been forgiven. We are called to encourage others to live with a forgiving heart, too.
When we harbor an unforgiving spirit, we hurt more than ourselves. Children have a great capacity to forgive. But they also learn from others. As they grow, they will learn to practice forgiving or not forgiving by watching the example of the adults in their life. Often, they are watching—and imitating—when we least expect it.
As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday today, let’s remember that the children in our lives are watching how we treat those around us. They are especially noticing how we treat others who are different from us.
It’s not enough to tell our children what to do. We can quote Scripture verses such as Ephesians 4:32 (NIV):
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
But let’s not stop there. Model it. God calls us to communicate our message in both words and deeds. Isn’t that what He did for us?
Living out our salvation isn’t limited to sharing the gospel. It also requires us to extend to others the love and forgiveness God extends to us—without exception!