When I was a young boy, each time we would be going to someone’s house for dinner, I received what came to be known as the “Andy Lecture.” The “Andy Lecture” was very simple, but my parents were very serious about it. The lecture was this: “Eat whatever is put on your plate.” This was an important statement because I did not (and still do not) like most vegetables. By the time I reached about 10 years of age, my parents quit giving me the Andy Lecture. Instead, they simply said those two words – “Andy Lecture” – and I knew what they meant.
The truth is most children receive some sort of instruction from their parents when going to visit others. I would suppose that one of the main phrases many parents have told their child(ren) is to “be nice.” The phrase is meant to encourage (or warn) a child that a certain type of behavior is expected in a certain setting. The idea of being nice is effectively meant as a way of saying “get along with others.” The definition of the word suggests that we are agreeable or pleasant. As such, the idea of being nice is passive and can be faked for a period of time.
On the other hand, the notion of being kind is a matter of character. Kindness requires being considerate and even benevolent toward others. In other words, to be kind requires action – and that action is for the benefit of others. Therefore, people may be able to fake kindness for a while, but eventually, their true nature will be exposed.
In our passage today, 2 Samuel 9, David extended kindness to Mephibosheth because of his relationship to Jonathan but also because David was kind. Anyone can be nice, at least for a time, but kindness runs deeper; it is a part of our core. As Paul shared in two different letters, kindness is a part of love (1 Corinthians) and is evident as fruit of God’s Spirit within us (Galatians).
David exhibited kindness to Mephibosheth because of his affection for Jonathan. No one asked or demanded that David be nice; rather, David was kind because that was his nature. David’s desire to be kind is evident throughout the passage and shows him to truly be a man after God’s own heart.
David Shows Kindness
For Jonathan’s sake (2 Sam 9:1) – David asks others remembering his covenant to Jonathan.
- David asks the question of those who provide him counsel (“they” in v. 2)
- Ziba provides information for David to show his kindness (vv.3-4)
For the sake of your father – David talking to Mephibosheth (2 Sam 9.7)
- David tells Mephibosheth why he desires to be kind to him. (v. 7)
- Mephibosheth was extended the honor of eating at the king’s table (vv. 7, 13)
Culturally, to be a guest at another’s table was a high honor, But Mephibosheth was not just a guest, he was considered as a son (v.11).
Ziba and his family become servants of Mephibosheth (vv. 9-12)
Mephibosheth lived like a prince while the work was done for him. Ziba, his family, and servants were certainly not left for want.
David Shows the Kindness of God (2 Samuel 9:3)
David’s kindness was a reflection of God’s love. (1 Corinthians 13:4)
David did not owe Mephibosheth anything, but honored him with a place at the table nonetheless.
Mephibosheth could do little for David, but David respected him nonetheless by returning His land.
We Can Show Kindness Because of God’s Spirit.
True kindness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)
True kindness cannot be faked, because it is a part of who we are.
Being nice and being kind are not the same idea. How nice we are is based upon the perception of others whereas the nature of our kindness is ultimately evaluated by God. My parents gave me the “Andy Lecture” because they wanted me to be nice – it was about the perception of others on me and on them. But kindness is far deeper. Consider Jesus, for instance. Many in Jesus’ day would not likely have considered him nice (calling people vipers – Matthew 23:33; or turning over tables in the temple – Matthew 21:12 – would not be considered nice), but his benevolent nature was evident in everything He did.
David showed extraordinary kindness to the son of a deceased friend for the sake of that friend. David intentionally acted out of the goodness of his heart to share what he had with another. Truly, David’s action in this passage ties everything together we have learned in the last four weeks. David’s love for Jonathan motivated him to seek continued reconciliation with the house of Saul long after Jonathan’s death. His desire to show kindness allows an otherwise unknown and forgotten individual to experience the generosity of a king.
The link to God is, thus, right before us. We can easily see David as one who seeks the heart of God through these actions. Consider that God, likewise, was motivated by love to reconcile us, a group of relatively unknown and unimportant individuals, and showed us extraordinary kindness by the giving of His Son. We have been shown this kindness, in part, so that we might share what we have with others as well. If you and I want to be known as a man or woman after God’s heart, we need to be more than nice to others; we need to show them kindness.
The JOURNEY letter for today is: N – NURTURE.
To nurture someone or something requires kindness. It requires intention. Thus, it requires action. We have heard it said that someone was nurtured back to health. Or we have seen the differences in development between a young child who was nurtured and another who was neglected. The same is true with our faith. We grow in our faith and understanding if we are intentional to act – to read, to pray, to serve. A faith that is neglected shrivels up and dies. To paraphrase James 2, “Let me show you my faith by what I do.” In other words, let me prove my faith by my service to God and others. Let me prove myself by being kind. When we nurture others we are being kind. We are showing love. We are allowing one part of the Spirit’s fruit to be manifest in our lives. To nurture others is to be kind, which is a part of the true nature of love.
NEXT STEP(S): So how can you be more nurturing this week?
LOVE. If we are going to seek to have a heart like God, we must reflect on the love He has for us. Today, that begins with remembering His sacrifice as we partake of the Lord’s Supper. But as we do, we must remember that His kindness to us required serving in the most extreme manner. His death for us was not about being nice; it was an act of immeasurable kindness. Therefore, for us to show kindness to others, we must be willing to serve as well. Over the past month, we have discussed our need to be motivated by love, to allow that love to move us toward reconciliation, and to be available to God no matter how insignificant we may feel. Now, all of that aligns with the need to express kindness to others so that God might be known through our acts of serving others.