Just For Today
This week we complete our discussion about walking the Christian path; doing our very best to uphold those virtues and behaviors that would exemplify Christ in our lives; and our examination of the Five Reiki Principles. This final week brings us to the Fifth Reiki Principle: Just For Today, I Will Be Kind To All Living Creatures.
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
We’ve spoken about kindness before, so this isn’t something that’s new to us. But, it is worth discussing periodically because it reminds us of the importance of kindness. Hebrews 10:24 & 25 says, “…consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds…let us encourage one another…” And Hebrews 3:13 says, “Encourage one another daily.” So it’s good to discuss these types of topics to remind each other, and to encourage each other. It also allows us to talk about new ideas we may come up with to demonstrate kindness to those around us. Also, much of our previous discussion has revolved around being kind to family and friends – people we know. Of course, that’s important. But, equally important is our call to be kind to strangers, and, as the Fifth Reiki Principle brings to awareness, our responsibility to be kind to all creatures – even non-human.
1 John 4:8 tells us, “God is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love is kind.” Based on these two simple verses, we see that kindness is a manifestation of God at work in our lives. Colossians 3:12 tells us, “Clothe yourselves with kindness…” So, kindness should just be a part of who we are. We should be clothed in kindness and we should allow that kindness to be a manifestation of God’s love in the world around us. Yes, even showing kindness to strangers. There’s a wonderful little story in the Book of Acts that is often read, but seldom seen from the standpoint of kindness to strangers. In Acts 28, Paul is on his journey and becomes shipwrecked. After swimming to shore to save themselves, verse 2 tells us, “…the natives (islanders) showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome…” Picture that…a group of shipwrecked people, swimming to shore like drowning rats, and what do these natives do? They built a fire and welcomed them. Think, too, about the words that were used at the time. The Hebrew word is Chittim or Kittim, which means “bruisers.” The Greek word is Barbaros, which translates to Barbarians or Heathens. In Luke’s eyes, in telling this story, he sees these natives, these islanders, as heathens – and yet it is these “heathens” that showed them kindness and saved their lives.
We’ve talked before about how Jesus was a boundary-breaker. Let’s take a look at how He also demonstrated kindness – to two people who were completely different – and what it might have meant to people around him at the time. One of the people is Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue. Given the status of those of such a position, he was surely well regarded and had a level of social standing. The other is a woman who has been sick for years. Given the status of women in that culture, and the attitude against the sick, she was surely an outcast amonst her people, probably very poor, with absolutely no social standing. The Scripture passage is Luke 8:40-56.
Jesus had grown in popularity and was a well respected teacher and healer. People followed him and crowded him everywhere He went. Remember, He sometimes had to go away by Himself just to get away, rest, and to take time with God in prayer and meditation. But, through it all, He always stopped to help them, to meet their needs. Despite whatever was going on in His life, he paid attention to those around Him who were in need. How many of us can say the same? We get so caught up in our own ‘stuff’ that we sometimes fail to pay attention to what’s going on around us.
In verses 40 & 41, the crowd had gathered around Jesus because they were expecting him. Enter Jarius, who fell at Jesus’ feet and pleaded for Him to come to his house to heal his 12 year old daughter who, by all accounts, had died. As Jesus went with Jarius, the crowds almost crushed him. Think about that simple act for a minute. Jesus was obviously headed somewhere, to do something that He had planned – but He immediately changed His plans in order to be of service to Jarius.
Think of your day, your schedule…do you handle interruptions this well? To be honest, many of us don’t. When someone, or some situation, interrupts our concentration, our “flow,” we don’t always respond as well as we could. But these interruptions can sometimes lead to new opportunities. This is what happened with Jesus. As He was walking away with Jarius, another interruption occurred – the poor, sick woman. Verses 43-46 tell us that this woman had been bleeding for 12 years and no one could help her. She came up behind Jesus, and touched the edge of His cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. Jesus asked, “who touched me?” Everyone around him denied it.
Peter says, basically, that Jesus must have imagined it because there were so many people crowding Him and pressing against Him. Of course Jesus knew – He felt the flow of God’s healing energy flowing out from Him. And, though He was busy heading over to Jarius’ house to heal his daughter, Jesus stopped and tood time to give His attention to the woman.
In verses 47 & 48, we read that, realizing she couldn’t go unnoticed, the woman fell at Jesus’ feet and told Him why she had touched him and that she had been instantly healed. Did Jesus get angry, or was He put off by the interruption? No…He told her that her faith had healed her and to go in peace.
Again, remember that woman did not hold a place of importance in Jewish culture at the time. And, because she had a chronic menstrual discharge, she was considered unclean and was outcast. She was likely very much alone for even her family would have put her out. What did Jesus do? He listened. And, listening to her story, he affirmed her as a human being, as a child of God, in a way she had likely not been listened to or affirmed in all those 12 years of her sickness. Jesus also affirmed her with His proclamation that her faith had healed her. She had been outcast, hadn’t had human touch or any real interaction for years and yet Jesus tells her that her faith has healed her and that she can go in peace.
Finally, Jesus is back on his way to Jarius’ house. In verses 49-56 we read that the people told Jarius not to bother Jesus any further, his daughter was already dead. Jesus tells him not to be afraid, and to believe. Jesus, Peter, John, James, Jarius, and Jarius’ wife went into the room. Outside, the people were wailing and mourning. Jesus tells them to stop because the girl is merely asleep. How do they respond? They laugh at Him. Still, Jesus calmly goes about taking the girl’s hand and told her to get up. And, when she did, Jesus told the others to get her something to eat. He also told Jarius and his wife not to tell anyone what had happened.
Why would Jesus say not to tell about what had happened? He certainly could have gone out to the masses and gloated, “I told you so, I told you so.” But He didn’t.
Concerened more about hey they felt, and would feel, He didn’t try to shame them, or get even, or even to glorify Himself. He simply said to “…leave it the way it is.”
Two very different people – a ruler of the synagogue and a poor, sick woman. Both entirely deserving of Jesus’ kindness.
And so it is with us. No matter whether those around us are known to us or strangers, whether we perceive them to be of “high status” or “low status,” everyone is deserving of our kindness. We can be kind by helping others, by listening to others, and by affirming others.
Kindness to Non-humans
As we’ve seen, when it comes to kindness, it’s fairly easy to find Scripture that supports or teaches kindness to each other. But animals? Some say we have been given dominion over the animals, so we can do what we want. While it’s true we have dominion, we must be responsible, too. Ezekiel 34:17 & 18 says, “Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” This passage reminds us that while we enjoy all the bounty God has provided, we must use that bounty responsibly. All living creatures are God’s creation. And, we would do well to remember that God has a relationship with all of his creation – not just we humans. Genesis 9:15 reminds us, “…I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh…”
Yes, we have dominion over the animals, but we must also act responsibly toward them, too. Just as important as treating each other with kindness, we must also remember to extend that kindness to “every living creature.” Those words from Genesis directly correspond to our Fifth Reiki Principle!
There is a multitude of ways we can demonstrate kindness and, in so doing, allow God to be made manifest through us. We’ll talk about some of them during our discussion. I’ll also share a couple of opportunities that presented themselves to me over this last week.
In closing, I enjoy the simplicity of the Dalai Lama’s words. Be kind whenever possible. Since making the choice between being kind and being rude, mean, hateful, or vengeful is always ours to make – choosing kindness is always possible. I’d also like to share this thought by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
And so it is that I invite you this week to focus on our Fifth and final Reiki Principle – Just For Today, I Will Be Kind To All Living Creatures.
Illustrations for Discussion:
- Opportunity Missed – Telemarketer
- Opportunity Realized – Drive-thru employee
- Opportunity Realized – Drive-thru ‘pay it forward’
- 1 John 4:8
- 1 Corinthians 13:4
- Colossians 3:12
- Hebrews 3:13
- Hebrews 10:24 & 25
- Acts 28:2
- Luke 8:40-56
- Ezekiel 34:17-18
- Genesis 9:15
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