August 4, 2014 • By Ed Wrather
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. - Ephesians 4:31 NKJV.
Soon after the Survivor was born he was relocated to a new land along with his mother, two brothers and a sister. Not long after their move the mother died from a heart condition. While the Survivor was growing up his sister disappeared and was never seen again. The Survivor suffered a life threatening accident and both of his brothers also died, but the Survivor lives on. Who or what is the Survivor? The Survivor is a cat and his name is Batman. Batman is a large long haired mostly black cat with some white around his face and belly. This cat is a survivor having lived outside in a dangerous environment for four and a half years. He has survived having a broken leg. He has survived threats from owls, hawks, coyotes, bobcats, and dogs along with attacks from other male cats.
Batman has a strategy for surviving in his relationships with other cats that has been effective. It is a somewhat strange strategy. Batman survives in his relationships through extending forgiveness and demonstrating kindness. A large male cat outside has at times viciously attacked Batman, but yesterday I saw him go up to this cat and rub on him and begin to give him a bath. Batman now comes inside on our patio at night where it is safer. However, we have an inside cat, George, who is a bully. Also, yesterday I saw George jump on Batman, who at first hissed in response, but then went over and began to rub on George and purred. Now Batman is a large male cat who is all muscled up from his years outside and he could make short work of either of those other cats, instead he chooses to forgive and act kindly toward them.
Jesus gives us a strategy for surviving in our relationships with other people. What is that strategy? Forgiveness and kindness. In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter asks Jesus a question about forgiveness: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” This is the answer Jesus gives to Peter: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” The point is not to forgive 490 times. The point Jesus is making is that the extending of forgiveness toward others should be never ending. If you have ever been on the receiving end of receiving forgiveness from another person you know that this is something that is not soon forgotten. Forgiveness goes far beyond words extending deep into our hearts.
What does Jesus have to say about being kind: “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil (Luke 6:35).” Extending unexpected kindness is always fun, because you can see the surprise and joy etched on the faces of the recipients. Just like it is etched on our own faces when we are the recipients of unexpected kindness.
The Jesus strategy for winning friends and influencing people begins and ends with extending forgiveness and extending kindness even toward your enemies (Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 6:35). If you haven’t tried the Jesus strategy for relational survival lately, try it. Living as a forgiving and kind person will not only extend your life, it will make your journey through this world a far more pleasant one.