Be imitators of God… Ephesians 5:1
God may even call you to give up a right that would be morally and legally justified. One way to imitate his mercy is to show sympathy, kindness, and compassion toward someone who is in need of help, even if he does not deserve it…One way to do this is to refrain from exercising legitimate rights and thus release others from their obligations…The Bible is filled with examples of this kind of mercy that leads to a willing relinquishment of rights.
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 93
Food for Thought
The goal is to imitate God, not some interpretation of God. It’s the difference between being an imitator and an imitation.
I’m not a preacher. I don’t know the Bible very well. What can I possibly do to spread peace in the world for Jesus’ sake?
Ken reminds us of the answer that’s always right — imitate God. And a specific way of doing that is to show sympathy, kindness, and compassion to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
Well, OK, but shouldn’t I go to South America as a missionary or take online Bible classes or get involved in a small group study on the gospel of John?
Sure — all those things are great things if that’s what God is leading you to do. But be careful.
We must stay alert to the fact that the deceiver would like us to frame “peacemaking for Jesus’ sake” in terms of missionary service or some formal role in a church. It is quite likely that the greatest impact we can have for the Kingdom of God is to show sympathy, kindness, and compassion on a daily basis to those closest to us — our spouse, kids, family, friends, and co-workers. Extending God’s mercy to the undeserving people around us finds us being imitators of God, the gracious Father who extended mercy to us when we didn’t deserve it.