Roughly seven years ago, the entire world mourned the death of South Africa President Nelson Mandela. 2020 marks 30 years since Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize. His presidency’s hallmark was to end a terrible political practice called apartheid, whereby racial segregation was enforced by the law. Mandela earned his law degree… in prison. After more than 26 years behind bars, the first time he ever voted in an election was 1994. At the end of that day, at 76 years of age, Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa.
One of the most amazing aspects of Mandela’s story is that he captured the respect and admiration of the guards assigned to oversee his imprisonment. Stories abound of his conduct throughout his time as an inmate. He was kind, compassionate, and forgiving of his captors. When asked how he could rise above the cruel treatment of his incarceration, Mandela responded, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
Friends, Jesus came to set you and me free. Sometimes freedom happens when we let go of the unkindness we’ve experienced at the hands of others. Jesus demonstrated it… as He hung on a Cross. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
It’s quite simple. You and I look a lot like Jesus when we show kindness to those who have been unkind to us. Kindness unleashed in us results in restoration around us.
Friend, you are meant to leave behind those things and circumstances that have stolen your freedom. Walk forward, holding the hand of your Savior, determined to demonstrate His kind of kindness.
What unkind thing has caused you the most pain in your life? Could you lay it completely down if it meant you would experience the most amazing, peace-filled life? (Note: That was a trick question. If you lay it down, friend, peace will come.)