Philo of Alexandria said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” In my younger years in ministry, I was sometimes impatient with those who requested prayer for the same issue again and again. I remember thinking, “Can’t you just get past this and move on?” Thankfully, age, time with God, and my own fierce battles have taught me a good deal more patience–and hopefully His kindness flows more readily to others.
It’s so annoying!
Having said that, there’s still one person to whom I show little kindness. After more than 40 years of walking with God, she fights some of the same old battles. It’s so annoying that I often ask, “Can’t you just get past this and move on?” Perhaps you’ve already guessed that the person who so annoys me—is me.
Why do we show kindness to others, but not to ourselves? Let’s look at Hebrews 4:15-16.
Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin! So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved grace, and we will find help.Hebrews 4:15-16*
God’s recipe for victory
This passage gives us God’s two-part recipe for victory over temptation and sin.
- You must accept the fact that Jesus knows what it means to fight great battles.
- You must go bravely before His throne to access His grace and help.
Where we go wrong
Instead of embracing the first thing (that He gets us), and acting on the second thing (going bravely before His throne), we focus on the other part of this passage (“But he did not sin!”); and somehow, we expect the same from ourselves.
I hope you don’t miss my meaning here. I’m not suggesting that you tolerate sin. The Bible tells us to flee sin and every hint of it. But neither should you expect perfection. If you do, your failures will almost certainly drop you into a pit of self-loathing. And how can you show kindness to someone you loathe?
I like the word “bravely” in this translation. It’s the point of the whole thing really. Your sin nature shouldn’t drive you to despair. Instead, it should drive you to your knees and to His throne. You WILL miss the mark; but when you do, you can approach God bravely, knowing exactly what His reaction will be.
Soak it up
If the one person you can’t forgive in your life is you, take some time to soak up these two verses. Let your confidence rest not in your own ability to conquer sin, but in His promise of grace and mercy when you do sin. It’s His kindness that will help you when you can’t seem to get it right—even after 40 years.
I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man I have ever met.D.L. Moody
*Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)
© 2006 American Bible Society. All rights reserved.