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Brain Games: Compassion

I watched an interesting show this past week. It was called “Brain Games,” and the particular episode showed the typical reactions people have to being mistreated by someone else. Typically, if someone is unkind to us, we will be frustrated and look for an opportunity to take revenge in some way. But the experiment also showed that if someone is exceedingly kind to us immediately after we’ve experienced unkindness, we are far less likely to seek revenge or payback on anyone.

As I watched that, I couldn’t help but think about the Holy Spirit’s exhortation for Christians to “let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near” (Phil. 4:5). If this were truly the way we lived our lives, we could expect to positively impact the lives of others. Christians should be the first ones stepping into the world to show exceeding kindness. We are the ones whose holy book says, “when you give to the poor…” and, “let your speech always be gracious…” and, “do not repay evil for evil.” We are the ones whom God has called to live like himself. And if he was willing to make the enormous sacrifices it took to show kindness to the people who had rejected him, should we not also be willing to swallow our pride whenever we can and show kindness in the world?

The striking thing about this whole idea is that my decision to show kindness to someone will likely impact the next person he meets as well. I do not mean to say that all the world’s ungodliness can be undone if we will all just be nicer, but it is worth noting that compassion is contagious. It will almost never happen on accident, but it does tend to spread if someone is purposefully showing kindness.
So let’s make a determination to be kind this week. Let someone over in traffic. Go visit one of our homebound members. Learn your waitress’s name and ask about her day. Give to the poor. A little kindness goes a long way.