"Because you are listening to these rulings, keeping and obeying them, Adonai your God will keep with you the covenant and mercy that he swore to your ancestors.
(Deu 7:12 CJB)
May We Be Known For the Kindness We Bestow.
Three main attributes were to distinguish Israel from the nations:
- A sense of shame
- Bestowing kindness.
Mercy should be a natural virtue for us as we have been shown much from our Father.
A sense of shame: There is something wrong with us if we cannot blush and hang our heads low at the mention of our sins. Ezra mentions "blushing" for the sins the sin of the nation. Jeremiah on the other hand is appalled that the people of Jerusalem cannot do not even blush because of their sins (Ezra 9:6; Jer 6:15, 8:12). Modern psychology teaches us that shaming a child for wrong-doing, or even an adult for that matter is a form of psychological abuse, like "guilt-tripping" someone, but there is such a thing as wrong-doing and blushing/feeling ashamed of ourselves is the natural reaction of HaShem's spirit within us. If we can't be ashamed of ourselves for our sins/mistakes, maybe we lack of the Spirit of HaShem within us. Even King David felt shame for his actions.
Kindness/mercy The Hebrew uses the word: Chesed חסד): Rabbi Boruch Epstein explains: HaShem deals with a person as that person deals with others (sotah 9b). Therefore, if the Torah mentions that HaShem will bestow kindness/mercy on Israel, it is implied that Israel must bestow mercy/kindness upon others.
Discipleship is the idea of imitating the lifestyle of a teacher. If therefore HaShem shows kindness to His people and never forgets His covenant with them, so should we if we call ourselves disciples. Paul, the faithful shaliach (emissary/apostle)who imitates his Master and Lord Yeshua, exhorts us to imitate HaShem as we walk in love and kindness. He says,
So imitate God, as his dear children; and live a life of love, just as also the Messiah loved us, indeed, on our behalf gave himself up as an offering, as a slaughtered sacrifice to God with a pleasing fragrance. (Eph 5:1-2 CJB)
... try to imitate me, even as I myself try to imitate the Messiah. (1Co 11:1 CJB)
How do we show kindness?
- Consideration is part of kindness.
- Thinking of others' need maybe even ahead of time.
- Being considerate of people's time, resources, and as the apostle says,
- Regarding others better than ourselves.
Therefore, if you have any encouragement for me from your being in union with the Messiah, any comfort flowing from love, any fellowship with me in the Spirit, or any compassion and sympathy, then complete my joy by having a common purpose and a common love, by being one in heart and mind. Do nothing out of rivalry or vanity; but, in humility, regard each other as better than yourselves --look out for each other's interests and not just for your own. (Php 2:1-4 CJB)
A woman made the cut in the Brit for the world to read about her kindness throughout all generations. Her name was Tavitha.
Now in Yafo there was a talmidah named Tavita (which means "gazelle"); she was always doing tzedakah and other good deeds. It happened that just at that time, she took sick and died. After washing her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Lud is near Yafo, and the talmidim had heard that Kefa was there, so they sent two men to him and urged him, "Please come to us without delay." Kefa got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him into the upstairs room. All the widows stood by him, sobbing and showing all the dresses and coats Tavita had made them while she was still with them. But Kefa put them all outside, kneeled down and prayed. Then, turning to the body, he said, "Tavita! Get up!" She opened her eyes; and on seeing Kefa, she sat up. He offered her his hand and helped her to her feet; then, calling the believers and the widows, he presented her to them alive. (Act 9:35-41 CJB)
I know I have written a lot about this subject and I want to explain why. I have been studying the lifestyle of the early Israeli messianic Jews, the life of our 1st century brothers and sisters. For many year, from the time of the miraculous Shavuot 50 days after the resurrection, though the disciples were persecuted by the Sadducee priests, they overall enjoyed the favor of the people, even in Israel. They were known for their unswerving dedication to their rabbi Yeshua, as well as for their beautiful "easy yoke" Torah observance which caused them to be known for their compassion, their charity, their love, their abnegation, and over all altruism. I'd like to share an example of how I feel it might have looked like, and of course this is my humble opinion.
For 1995 to 2005 my wife and I have been involved in a work to help the many street kids of the Portland area. We used to bring them in to our house, feed them, talk to them, counsel them, pray for them, and even teach them. Every year we also setup camp at the Rainbow Gathering,which is a yearly hippy/street kids gathering somewhere far away in a national forest. There we would do the same thing as well as have a singing evening by the campfire and my wife would host a first aid station. There were many other camps of believers there, even a camp called 'Jerusalem Camp'. I'd like to tell you about two times (and there were many others) when I felt very honored.
It was during the night, a young girl had arrived at the camp. She had struggled through mud, rain, and cold in her wheelchair in order to come to the camp. It was early July high on a mountain and it had just snowed. This poor hippy girl needed help and care. The organizers (as if there was any organization) decided that the best place she will be taken care of was ours. They felt that we would take care of her unselfishly without judgment, just showing her love, respect, and consideration. Then, a couple of days later in the middle of a snowy cold and muddy night, a sick young man desperately needed to go down the mountain and go to the hospital. This required to take him on a stretcher to the parking lot 3 miles away on a muddy near freezing mountain trail on a freezing night. Again, the organizers came to get us (it was not just my wife and I, we had a whole team of young people working with us). I personally consider it the greatest of all honors that these people came to us for these difficult assignments knowing for sure that we would do it.
I am not writing this in order to brag, but in order to give an example of what we, HaShem's people and congregation should be known for in this world. According to the teachings Yeshua's disciples left us, compassion and kindness are more important than letting people know what we eat or don't eat, how we dress, on what day we rest, how we worship ... It is the sign of our discipleship (John 13:35). Yeshua Himself tried to tell the Pharisees that compassion, forgiveness, and altruism was more important than sacrifice. The second of course does not cancel the first, but what Hoseah was teaching then was that if not done in the spirit of the second, the fist is invalid.
For what I desire is mercy, not sacrifices, knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hos 6:6 CJB)