The Wisdom of Kindness

2 Chronicles 10:6-8
And king Rehoboam took counsel with the old men that had stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, saying, What counsel give ye me to return answer to this people?  And they spake unto him, saying, If thou be kind to this people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be thy servants for ever.  But he forsook the counsel which the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men that were brought up with him, that stood before him.

Rehoboam found himself in a pivotal situation.  Solomon, the wisest and most prosperous king, was gone, and Rehoboam ascended to the throne as the newest king of Israel.  And he is approached by some of his father’s servants who ask for some mercy, some relief from the burden of their service.  To make his decision, Rehoboam consults two different groups—those who had learned from his father, wise old men with experience, understanding, and an education from Solomon, and the people he had grown up with.  And even though it may have seemed like a relatively small decision at the time, the implications were pretty serious for the entire nation.

What was the wise thing to do in this situation?  To show kindness.  To deal gently with the servants.  To have mercy on those who were dedicated to his service.  People don’t really want to serve someone who treats them poorly.  People aren’t eager to bow down to a tyrant.  Kindness goes a long way.  It is an opportunity to demonstrate the grace of God, to make a sacrifice, to have a positive impact on someone else.  It is how God rules and how God’s king should rule.

So much trouble would have been avoided if Rehoboam would have shown kindness instead of trying to be the big tough guy.  The people would have gladly served him all their days.  His kingdom could have continued to prosper.  But instead the kingdom was divided.  There was conflict and turmoil.  Jeroboam made his gods and built his false altar that plagued the nation for generations.  And ultimately Rehoboam turned His back on following God, as well.

Being kind isn’t always going to spare us from trouble.  Doing the right thing doesn’t guarantee that nothing bad will happen.  But what does it do?  It honors God and can glorify Him.  It keeps our hearts tender and our focus on the needs of others.  It may prevent conflict.  It may have a significant impact on someone else greater than we would ever realize.  May we live, as God’s people, with a heart of kindness that demonstrates the love of God to a world around us that desperately needs His grace and mercy.

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