July 22: Showing Kindness to a Stranger
2 Samuel 9:1–10:19; 1 Peter 5:1–14; Psalm 138:1–8
When I was a teenager, I became serious about showing unsolicited kindness while working through a 30-day intensive devotional. The devotional required me to record an act of kindness each day. My efforts included things as mundane as taking out the trash before being asked and closing schoolmates’ lockers to prevent them from becoming the victims of pranks. Although the acts were simple, and mostly meaningless, the effort taught me a discipline. Kindness should be intentional, not random. But what if your kindness stems from guilt?
In 2 Samuel 9, King David shows intentional kindness to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, by offering them Saul’s land after Saul and Jonathan have died. It’s hard to know why David does this, especially since it puts him at risk—his association with the previous regime could anger his warriors, who fought against Saul. Is David merely being a good guy? Does he feel guilty because Jonathan, who had been so loyal to him, died in battle? Is he trying to establish that he is a merciful ruler? Does he have other political motives? The question of David’s motive evokes another one: Why do we treat others well?
Peter addressed this question of motive in his first letter, in which he exhorts ministers to “Shepherd the flock of God among you [being the people of the church], exercising oversight not by compulsion but willingly, in accordance with God” (1 Pet 5:2). He points out that if we are moved by compulsion, our motives are probably wrong.
There are times I wonder whether I treat others well because I subconsciously think that it will earn me points with them or with God. I battle this—it’s something we should all fight against. The state of the heart when helping others is every bit as important as the act itself.
What motivates your acts of kindness? What pure, kind, and intentional act can you perform today?
JOHN D. BARRY
- And David said, Is there yet any man left of the house of Saul, that I may show him mercy for Jonathan’s sake? And there was of the household of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba, and when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, I thy servant am he. Then the King said, Remaineth there yet none of the house of Saul, on whom I may show the mercy of God? Ziba then answered the King, Jonathan hath yet a son lame of his feet. Then the King said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is the house of Machir the son of Ammiel of Lo Debar. Then king David sent, and took him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel of Lo Debar. Now when Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the fields of Saul thy father, and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually. And he bowest himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am? Then the king called Ziba Saul’s servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master’s son all that pertaineth to Saul and to all his house. Thou therefore and thy sons and thy servants shall till the land for him, and bring in that thy master’s son may have food to eat. And Mephibosheth thy master’s son shall eat bread always at my table (now Ziba had fifteen sons, and twenty servants.) Then said Ziba unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant, so shall thy servant do, that Mephibosheth may eat at my table, as one of the king’s sons. Mephibosheth also had a young son named Micha, and all that dwelled in the house of Ziba, were servants unto Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table, and was lame on both his feeet. After this, the King of the children of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his stead. Then said David, I will show kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness unto me. And David sent his servants to comfort him for his father. So David’s servants came into the land of the children of Ammon, And the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honor thy father, that he hath sent comforters to thee? hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it? Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved off the half of their beard, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away. When it was told unt oDavid, he sent to meet them (for the men were exceedingly ashamed) and the king said, Tarry at Jericho, until your beards be grown, then return. And when the children of Ammon saw that they stank in the sight of David, the children of Ammon sent and hired the Aramites of the house of Rehob, and the Aramites of Aoba, twenty thousand footmen, and of king Maacah a thousand men, and of Ish-Tob twelve thousand men. And when David heard of it, he sent Joab, and all the hosts of the strong men. And the children of Ammon came out of put their army in array at the entering in of the gate: and the Aramites of Zoba, and Rehob, and of Ish-Tob, and of Maacah were by themselves in the field.. 2 Samuel 9:1–10:19
- Go to now, ye rich men: weep, and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your rich are corrupt, and your garments are moth eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh, as it were fire. Ye have heaped up treasure for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers, which have reaped your fruits (which is of you kept back by fraud) crieth, and the cries of them which have reaped, are entered into the ears of the Lord of hosts. Ye have lived a pleasure on the earth, and in wantonness. Ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned, and have killed the just, and he hath not resisted you. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord, Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the former, and the latter rain. Be ye also patient therefore, and settle your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth near. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the Prophets for an example of suffering adversity, and of long patience, which have spoken in the name of the Lord. Behold, we count them blessed which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have known what end the Lord made. For the Lord is very pitiful and merciful. But before all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, nor by earth, nor by any other oath: but let your yea, be yea, and your nay, nay, lest ye fall into condemnation. Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the Elders of the Church, and let them pray for him and anoint him with oil in the Name of the Lord. 1 Peter 5:1–14
- I will praise thee with my whole heart: even before the gods will I praise thee. I will worship toward thine holy Temple and praise thy Name, because of thy loving kindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy Name above all things by thy word. When I called, then thou heardest me, and hast increased strength in my soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord: for they have heard the words of thy mouth. And they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord is great. For the Lord is high, yet he beholdeth the lowly, but the proud he knoweth afar off. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, yet with thou revive me: thou wilt search forth thine hand upon the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perform his work toward me: O Lord, thy mercy endureth forever: forsake not the works of thine hands. Psalm 138:1–8