One Stone in the Path
Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of his deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. (Colossians 3:12)
Since - indicating a condition has already been met. We are chosen - conditions met entirely through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Given a new kind of life - no longer bound by our past way of thinking and doing things. That might just come as a bit of relief to some who have been feeling like their past keeps haunting them, bringing them more than a fair share of grief and shame. All conditions have been met - that past has been wiped away by the blood of Jesus, but our minds might just hold onto those memories of the past a little too much. The more we learn about the grace of God, the more we will realize our past is just that - past.
We live a 'new kind of life' - because of his deep love and concern for each of us. The more we learn of God's love, the more we will realize just how forgiving it has been and continues to be on our behalf. This new kind of life is to be filled with the grace of God, creating both the desire and the ability to practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. The more we lean into God's grace, the more his grace oozes out of us and begins to be revealed in our actions. This is what God wants from - outright kindness and forgiving mercy toward others.
What does tenderhearted mercy actually look like? It means we are compassionate - recognizing the needs of others and moving to alleviate that need whenever possible. It is also us being charitable to others - not rushing into judgment about their actions or words. This might be a tough task for some, but for those who are called into this new life, there comes a deep desire to share the love and grace of God with those who need to experience it as deeply as we have. This is why God asks us to be merciful - for mercy involves recognizing a need, reaching out to meet it, meeting the other more than half-way.
We are to be thoughtful of others, but how do we develop this thoughtfulness toward others? Is it natural after we come into this relationship with Christ? A little bit, but even a small amount of compassion and kindness must be nurtured to grow. It is easy to judge the actions of another - oftentimes inaccurately. Ask God to give you a 'people filter' that helps you to recognize more than the immediate action - to see the value of the individual in spite of the offensive action. When you begin to see them through this 'filter', you begin to find ways to love them back even when their actions may not have been all that kind. Why? God not only met the conditions for you, but he met the conditions for their heart, as well. Your kindness may be the very first stone on the path to them meeting Jesus. Just sayin!