“I find it easy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me” (John Cleese). It is easy to be mean, and the world makes it easier. Life seems to be a gauntlet of rude awakenings, playground politics, the rage of rush hour, the push-and-shove along the corporate ladder, and the snippy bickering of a thousand petty conflicts can thoroughly trample any sunny disposition you may have once possessed as a child. It seems inevitable that we will be formed into a scowl. After receiving our fair share of mistreatment, we can end up approaching life with a preemptive, chronic frown. We brace ourselves for unkindness, and we are slowly transformed into a grouch.
Not so, for a Christian. A Christian must resist this darkening of the demeanor (Col. 3:12). A Christian doesn’t indulge in the pettiness of the world. A Christian is known for kindness (Gal. 5:22). It’s not an optional accessory. If you’re a Christian, then that means you are kind. A Christian is loving. It’s what defines him (1 John 3:10). The difference is obvious. Those who truly belong to God are loving, in particular, toward other Christians. This means unkindness can be a deal-breaker. As far as Jesus is concerned, we can’t draw the line anywhere. Even when it comes to our very enemies, the appropriate response is love (Matt. 5:44). He goes on to explain that there’s nothing necessarily admirable about loving the loveable (Matt. 5:46). There’s nothing unusual about loving the loveable. Loving the unlovable, that’s where you’ll find a Christian.
You’ll also notice there are no excuses. 1 John 4:7 doesn’t say, “Beloved, let us love one another unless you’re in a really bad mood.” Ephesians 4:32 doesn’t say, “Be kind to one another unless the other person is unkind to you first or if we have a genetic disposition for anger in your family.” Scripture is not open to our good reasons. It might be difficult, it might feel downright impossible, but we are commanded to be kind to everyone.
Love is the key ingredient. If we remove it from any situation, we are reduced to nothing more than an irritating noise (1 Cor. 13:1). If we do not love, we degrade our position. Even if we’re right, we’re wrong because we didn’t set out to do the right thing with love. For a Christian, at the heart of every action is a basic question. When dealing with conflict and annoying personalities and even your enemy, it comes down to this very simple question. Do you love them? This question would stifle gossip, deception and maliciousness. This is the first brick that goes into place determining everything else. Love, or the lack of it, will determine whether or not any action we take after that is godly or not. Action without love is easy.