Saturday, June 17, 2023
One of the attractive incentives for a job is a retirement plan with lasting benefits. We don't want to invest in something that doesn't offer us a good return on our investment! Kindness is one of those investments we make with others that can pay huge, lasting, even lifetime benefits. However, this virtue is often not championed in our hyper-competitive world. This "win at all costs" lifestyle means taking others down to get ahead of them for yourself. Manipulating others, pushing past others, going around others, and tearing down others are all considered necessary at times if we are going to get ahead. The wise, inspired writer of our proverb today disagrees.
Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.
Cruelty can win only for a while; then, the problems they have caused others will ultimately become the ruin they bring on themselves. Jesus gave a similar warning:
Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 
In a culture where sarcastic ridicule is tolerated and even honored with laughter, we must know that God hates such cruelty — whether physical or emotional. In Bible times, cruelty by people and nations ensured that God brought destruction to the cruel. Paul warns Timothy about the evil of such people and commands him to stay away from such people!  This person has multiple traits that God detests  Following God's commands and living according to God's plan will keep us from being cruel. 
How do we avoid letting our world's anger, hostility, rivalry, and selfishness keep us from being cruel? We choose to live in step with the Spirit of God, who is producing the godly fruit of "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."  We focus on Jesus and seek to reflect Jesus' nature to those around us as the Spirit transforms us to become more like our Lord  We learn to recognize cruelty and identify it for what it is — a destructive, evil, and sinful pattern of behaviors that destroy others. We want to build up others and avoid ever being cruel
Righteous Father, please create a distaste and revulsion for those who are cruel in their actions or speech. Many "heroic" villains in today's stories are such people and those who are cruel to others in what they say are often popular. Keep my heart on guard against any form of cruelty so that I can immediately recognize it, defend those on whom they unleash it, and reject it as a behavior I condone or award with laughter. I want any cruel ridicule of others to be repulsive to my spirit, just as I desire to be a person who displays the Holy Spirit's fruit and godly integrity in my life. In Jesus' name, I ask this. Amen.
Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.
'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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