"He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty." - Job 6:14
I have this game I play with the kids where I tap my head with my fingers and say "Think, tink, tink, tink... I KNOW! I KNOW! I KNOOOOW! Ve should go eat purple butterflies!" I think that potentially, they love this game so much, that we could actually do it for 2 full hours. (That's a long time when you're 3 or 5 and have the attention span of a twitchy rabbit.) I come up with ridiculous things, and the kids laugh, snort and yell "Again!"
Something like this is going on this morning as I write. "Tink, tink, tink..." My brain doesn't seem to be firing. And the dangers of just writing down vapid (I love this word), meaningless, blah blah poo-poo, is a real danger. And when I write, it must be profound! Just kidding...
But this verse above, set in chapter 6 of Job, where he's being forced to stick up for himself, jumped out at me this morning (probably because I'd highlighted it). I've written over and over again about how being an always happy, cheerful, manic Christian is not really a help to anyone. So I'm not sure I want to go into my issue with "Happy Christianity" again.
What I do want to take a look at is why we shoot our wounded. Why we withhold kindness from our brothers and sisters. For example: Have you ever asked someone how they're doing, and had them respond with "I'm doing terrible"? When this happens to me I wish I could leave my body and take my soul and all the real essence of me somewhere else. I guess there are appropriate ways and places to share our hurts, and perhaps casual greetings is not one of those.
But I know I withhold kindness a lot. My kids want to continue wrestling, and I come up with some lame reason like, I need to get to work, or have my devotions, meditate, brush my teeth, wax my eye-brows, etc. Melissa has something she's really struggling with and brings it to me at the end of the day when I'm trying to escape my troubles (for crying out loud) by reading fiction, perhaps living fiction. Hey I don't want to talk. I withhold.
My car was dead this morning. I was riding my bike near a school where parents were dropping their kids off. I had no jumper cables so I stopped a few cars to ask if they'd give me a jump, and after about four "Sorry, I don't have cables." I was beginning to suspect that kindness was being withheld.
Real kindness is hard. I found it in the list of love in 2 Cor. 13. I don't think it means drawing little jelly Mickey Mouses on our kids sandwiches. Just like gentleness doesn't mean having really floppy wrists and a very soft voice.
I seem to be good at mimicking kindness and gentleness, but the real thing, now that's difficult. Why? Because it's inconvenient. But it's not as inconvenient as not fearing God.
Self and selfishness are hard to escape from, but I believe that fear of the Almighty is the key. For when I fear God, I'm more likely to make sacrifices, for he's a sacrificial guy (plus he could blast me into oblivion if he wanted). When I'm close to God obedience becomes less begrudging but a delight. "Jump a car? No prob!"
I'm learning really, really, really... one more really, slowly that obedience does not mean asking God to make me feel good about doing something good, but doing what's right when everything in me wants to do something else.
It's pretty obvious that this is fearing the Lord. Trust and obey kind of stuff. The kind of stuff I learned with flannel grams at Sunday School, but hey, when you're trying to "Think, tink, tink" of something worthwhile to write about, getting back to the basics is a good idea.
Love God and love man. Trust and obey, and don't shoot your wounded friends - or poor Job. He's been through enough already.