Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.
-- Ephesians 4:32
Ever consider that it’s friends and family—not strangers—who seem to give us the most trouble?
Former President George H.W. Bush once reminisced about the time his son, George (the 43rd President), visited the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, and made the mistake of resting his feet on the coffee table.
“George Bush, you get your feet off the furniture!” demanded his feisty mother, Barbara.
“For goodness sake, Barbara,” responded Bush’s elderly father. “He’s the President of the United States.”
“I don’t care who he is,” she answered. “It’s still my coffee table.”
How right Jesus was when he observed that prophets are honored everywhere: except in their hometowns, with their own people and in their own homes!
Joseph, one of God’s great servants of Old Testament times, would likely identify with this awkward fact of life. He was the youngest and favorite of his father’s sons. And one day, his jealous siblings decided to sell their little brother into slavery in Egypt and blame a wild animal for his apparent death. Years later, faithful Joseph had impressed the authorities to the point that he had become a high government official in his adopted land.
When famine swept over the area, Joseph made sure that the Egyptian people had enough grain. Unaware that their sibling was still alive—much less an important leader—Joseph’s brothers traveled from Canaan to Egypt in search of food. After putting them through several tests, Joseph finally revealed his true identity. Of course, he could have sought revenge by enslaving his brothers or even putting them to death. But instead, he showed them undeserved kindness by inviting them to bring their father, livestock and servants to live with him in his land of plenty.
As Christ-followers, we’re also called to show kindness to others. And many times, we respond by giving to strangers who we’ll never meet. It might be a famine victim in Africa, a tsunami survivor in Asia or even someone who's literally picking up the pieces after a destructive tornado in the American Midwest. There’s certainly nothing wrong with passing along some of God’s many blessings to those who need them the most. But sometimes, those who need our kindness and goodness live as close as down the street or next door. Or even in the next room.
They’re your friends and family...the ones who tend to give you a hard time.
“Don't ever forget kindness and truth,” the author of Proverbs tells us. “Wear them like a necklace. Write them on your heart as if on a tablet.”
God has given us all more breaks than we can ever count. So be sure to pass a few along. You probably won't have to look far.