In J. R. R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit, the wizard Gandalf explains why he has selected a small hobbit like Bilbo to accompany the dwarves to fight the enemy. He says, “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”
That’s what Jesus teaches us as well. Warning us that we would live in dark times, He reminded us that because of Him we are “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14) and that our good deeds would be the power against the darkness for the glory of God (v.16). And Peter, writing to believers in Christ who were facing severe persecution, told them to live so that those accusing them would “by [their] good works which they observe, glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12).
There is one force that the darkness cannot conquer—the force of loving acts of kindness done in Jesus’ name. It is God’s people who turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and forgive and even love their enemies who oppose them who have the power to turn the tide against evil. So look for the privileged opportunity to perform acts of kindness today to bring the light of Christ to others.
Lord, teach me the folly of trying to repay evil for evil. May I be so grateful to You for the loving acts of kindness that You have shown me that I gladly look to share good deeds with others as well!
Light up your world with an act of kindness.
Taken from the Sermon on the Mount, today’s passage presents some of the behavioral expectations of the kingdom of God and stresses authenticity. Using the recognizable images of salt and light, Jesus tells His listeners that they cannot follow Him in secret. Salt must be salty and light must illuminate. However, we must be careful not to assume that it is goodness for goodness’ sake that is expected of God’s people. Good deeds are what bring God glory and reflect His character to the world (v.16).
In the African country where my friend Roxanne lives, water is a precious commodity. People often have to travel long distances to collect water from small, contaminated creeks—leading to sickness and death. It’s difficult for organizations like orphanages and churches to serve the people because of a lack of water. But that’s beginning to change.
Through Roxanne’s leadership and the unselfish gifts of some loving people in established churches, clean water wells are being dug. At least six new wells are now operational, allowing churches to be centers of hope and encouragement. A health center and a home for 700 orphans will also be able to be opened because of access to water.
That’s the kind of love that can flow from believers in Christ when we have experienced the love and generosity of God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 that if we don’t have love, our voices clang on people’s ears and our faith means nothing. And the apostle John says that if we have material possessions and see others in need and take action, that’s evidence that God’s love is abiding in us (1 John 3:16).
God desires that we deal “graciously” (Ps. 112:5) with those in need, for His heart is gracious toward us.
Be not weary in your serving; Do your best for those in need; Kindnesses will be rewarded By the Lord who prompts the deed. —Anon.
Kindness is Christianity with its working clothes on.
While there is no designation of the author of Psalm 112, the common speculation is for Davidic authorship. It may well have been written as a companion to Psalm 111. In both songs, the verses are written in alphabetical order, and both share the theme of the characteristics and life of the person blessed by God. Psalm 111 focuses on the God who blesses, while Psalm 112 focuses on the person who is blessed.
There is an old adage that says, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” It’s wise not to take on more responsibilities than we can handle. At some time, however, we will likely feel overwhelmed by the size and difficulty of a task we have agreed to do.
This can happen even in our walk of faith in Christ when our commitment to God seems too much to bear. But the Lord has an encouraging word for us when our confidence wavers.
The writer of Hebrews urged his readers to recall the courage they demonstrated during the early days of their faith (10:32-33). Despite public insults and persecution, they aided believers in prison, and they joyfully accepted the confiscation of their own property (vv.33-34). With that in mind, he says, “Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (vv.35-36).
Our confidence is not in ourselves but in Jesus and His promise to return at just the right time (v.37).
It is God’s power that enables us to continue in our journey of faith. Recalling the Lord’s faithfulness in days past stirs our confidence in Him today.
When life becomes a heavy load, An upward climb, a winding road, In daily tasks, Lord, let me see That with me You will always be. —D. DeHaan
Trusting God’s faithfulness stirs up our confidence.
Severely opposed and persecuted, Jewish Christians were pressured to abandon Christianity and to revert to Judaism. The unnamed writer of Hebrews encouraged them to continue in the faith by affirming the preeminence, superiority, and sufficiency of Christ through His person and position (Heb. 1–4) and His work of propitiation (chs. 5–10). He also warned them against rejecting Christ (2:1-3; 3:7-15; 6:4-6). Here, in his final exhortation, he reminded them of their exemplary faithfulness in enduring the mistreatments thus far (10:32-34) and of the great reward that would be theirs if they persevered (vv.35-36). He was confident that they would succeed (v.39).