Receiving a Kindness
George Everard, 1871
We should be careful how we reject anything which is given in real kindness, or how we refuse to allow another to assist us, where the desire to do so comes from a kindly feeling. The gift may not be really needful, or we could do without the help which is offered — but to refuse it may wound and chill a tender feeling heart. Never refuse either to do a kindness or to receive a kindness, if you can avoid it.
I remember a remark once made on this subject: it has often since occurred to me. I was walking with a young friend by the seaside, and I offered to carry something for him. He at once accepted my offer, and said, "For many years I refused the greatest kindness that could ever be granted to anyone; but since I received that, I never refuse anything done in a kind spirit."
It put the salvation of the gospel in somewhat of a new light to me. To receive it, is to receive a kindness from Christ — to refuse it, is to refuse the greatest kindness that can be offered to man! Is it not so? Oh, what a marvelous kindness is it which Jesus offers to men!
It is truly kindness, because it is the act of a kinsman, which the word implies — it means the act of one who is akin to you. Jesus is our Brother — He took our nature that He might be our Example, our sympathizing Friend, and our atoning Sacrifice.
And for this too is it not a marvelous kindness — because it cost so much? It cost His precious life. All the gold and silver in the world could not have purchased it — but Jesus bought it by His precious blood!
But what is this kindness that He offers? It is to give us the grant of a free and complete forgiveness — it is to raise us to the dignity of sons and daughters of the Most High — it is to bestow upon us as a present, without any works or deservings of our own, God's love as our portion here, and God's kingdom and glory hereafter. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But how may you obtain this great benefit? It is very simple — you have only to accept it with a humble, thankful spirit. If I offered you, on your birthday, the gift of a new Bible, or some other book — what would you have to do? Merely to receive it, and then a feeling of gratitude would arise in your mind. If a mistress or an elder sister were to offer you a new dress, or some article of clothing, which you would feel a pleasure in wearing — what would you do, but at once with a pleased look receive it, and thank the one who has so kindly thought of you?
Transfer this thought to the gift of salvation. In your heart receive it gratefully at the hand of Jesus — and it is yours forever. When the Holy Spirit shows you how much you need it, and then shows you that it is close by you, ready for your acceptance, and your heart says to the Lord, "O Lord, grant me Your mercy, Your rich grace — give me everlasting life" then you believe, and in believing the gift is yours.
But if this blessing is so great, and the way to obtain it be so simple — then why is it that so many lose it? Why is it that so few partake of this great blessedness? Why is it, my young reader, that you, perhaps, are without the enjoyment of it?
Perhaps you have never thought of it: your mind has been filled with your work, or the little cares of daily life, or the foolish tales you may have read, or the talk of those who live with you — and you never pause to consider how near is Jesus to bless you and do you good.
Perhaps you are too proud — you have high thoughts of yourself, you imagine you are quite good enough, or your mind is full of vanity and dress, or you do not wish to be saved in such a humble way as going to Christ without anything of your own. It was for this reason Naaman nearly lost the gift of healing, which he came so many miles to obtain — he despised Jordan's stream, and but for the counsel of his servants, he would have gone back as leprous as he came.
Perhaps you will not accept this gift from Christ, because it would lay you under an obligation to Him. You wish to have your own way; you are not willing to be controlled — you are not willing to deny yourself and follow Christ — and you know well that if Christ gives you the blessing of His salvation, He will then look to you to give Him yourself — your best affections, your whole life. So you fear the obligation of coming near to Christ and receiving anything from Him, because you determine to deny Him the love and obedience which He has a right to claim.
Well, whatever is the cause, whether thoughtlessness or pride or ingratitude — be sure that you are acting very foolishly. He gives as a King, and all He asks is that you should be His faithful subject; and your loyalty to him would prove an addition to your happiness, as well as your plain duty. And does it not grieve the Savior when you refuse to allow Him the joy of saving you, and giving you a place in His kingdom? Will it not at length turn His love into anger? When the King invited the guests to the marriage feast, and they refused His kindness and would not come, He was angry and called others in, but declared that none of the men who had thus refused should taste of His supper. Even thus shall it be with all who will not move a foot to draw near to Christ, or stretch out their hand to receive all the goodness He waits to bestow. If you taste not His kindness — then you must taste his wrath. Oh, see that you refuse not Him that calls you!
But I trust some readers may be even now partakers of Christ's mercy. You are like the friend of whom I spoke at the beginning of this chapter. Once you refused Christ, but now you have received Him, and you can rejoice in His love. If you have received His kindness — then how will you repay it? You would inquire: What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? What return can I make to Him who has done so much for me?
Remember Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Christ had shown her great kindness; He had taught her the words of eternal life. He had loved her in her great sorrow; He had mingled His tears with hers, and then had given her back the brother who was so dear to her. Now what does she do? She brings her alabaster jar of very precious ointment; she breaks the jar and pours it on His feet and head, and the house is filled with the savor of it. Cherish the same spirit — keep near to Christ's feet — bring to Him a heart full of true affection — then break your alabaster jar. Let your love be manifest — let it be seen and felt by those around you. Let your daily life be influenced in every way by His love — let it be filled with a thousand little acts of self-denial and kindness. Kind looks, kind words, kind thoughts of others, kind deeds for those who love you — let these abound. Think of your brothers and sisters, if you live at home and have any — and try to be to them an example of a truly happy Christian. If you are in service, let your bright cheerful spirit and your readiness to assist a fellow-servant, or to do what may be required of you by your mistress, be a proof that your religion is not an empty name.
If you are in any occupation where you mingle with other young people, let there be a quiet self-restraint, a something in your walk and conversation that compels them to respect you; and with this a genial warmth and an unselfish kindliness that will constrain them to love you. In this way you will best honor Christ. Your light will shine before men, and they will glorify Him who has bought you by His blood.
Let grace our selfishness expel,
Our earthliness refine;
And kindness in our bosoms dwell,
As free and true as Thine.