A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself. Prov 11:17 (English Standard version)
Today as I read this verse it speaks to me in terms of relationships, marital relationships in particular. I know lots of people who are married. Some of them do it very well. And some of them, not so well. I will say right up front that I am divorced. That does not mean I am not a fan of marriage. I am.
In genesis after Adam and Eve had eaten of the fruit that they were told not to eat from, God says this to Eve, “I will greatly increase your labor pains; with pain you will give birth to children. You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.”(Gen 3:16)
In some marriages, I observe wives who manipulate their husbands in an effort to control them. And some husbands who don’t treat their wives fairly and wonder why she always seems upset. Some wives/husbands won’t let their spouse out of their sight and must know where they are at every moment. Some wives try to manipulate their husbands by withholding sex. And sometimes it works.
When some of these things don’t work I have seen some spouses resort to cruelty. When they can’t control the husband/wife they become angry and begin to disrespect and treat the man/woman with cruelty, which only serves to make things worse.
Both men and women make these mistakes in relationships. The bottom line is you will not evoke feelings of love in another person if you are treating them like crap.
Oddly enough if you want to see a change in your spouse, a co-worker, or anybody, it is most likely you are the one who needs to change in the way you treat the other person. I can’t tell you how you treating people with kindness will affect your immediate circumstances. However, the verse above promises that “your kindness will reward you..” And that you may get away with treating people with cruelty for some time but in the end, it will destroy you. You! Not the other person.
Where would we be if God was holding on to our sin in unforgiveness and was holding anger in His heart about us? Number one, He never would have sent His Son to rescue us. Instead of blessing us He might be busily trying to destroy us, as many people believe about Him anyway. It is sooo not true. Instead, I believe He is constantly coming up with new ways to bless us.
And here is a good place to start, realizing that God the Father loves you unconditionally. Think about this truth a good long time. It doesn’t matter what you may or may not have done. He still loves you. He has reconciled you to himself through His Son, Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:17-20) Once you really get this truth it will change who you are.
When you realize how much the Father loves and cares for you everything changes within you at a very deep level. When that happens His love cannot help but flow out of you into other people’s lives.
You cannot give what you don’t have, or, rather what you don’t know you have. You can’t just muster up love and kindness. Besides people can tell whether or not you are sincere in your “love” for them. When you realize how God feels about you, and that He is not angry or against you, but loves you more than you know, you will change. When that love overflows in your life then people in your circle of life will be affected. This includes your marital relationship, friendships, work relations; every person you interact with.
So, as Elvis Presley says, and, King Solomon too, Don’t Be Cruel.