"Be kindly affectioned on to another with brotherly love; in honour of preferring one another." ~ Romans 12:10"...'[If] one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it." ~ 1 Corinthians 12:26
Living Lessons on Kindness From the Pages of Scripture:The world says, "the good that men do is soon forgotten, the evil lives on forever." God says, "The memory of the just is blessed but the name of the wicked shall rot" (Proverbs 10"7). By honoring the memory of those who benefited our lives, we are performing a kindness that fulfills an important purpose of the Lord. Only after the death of a righteous person did another person fully appreciate the benefits that had been received. It was then that the memory of that righteous person was properly honored. Who was the man who did not fully understand or appreciate what he had received until after the giver was dead? It was then that he properly honored his memory. Nicodemus.
How is Giving Honor to Whom Honor is Due Illustrated in Scripture?The shocking event that caused other men to flee in fear caused him to advance in boldness. What brought discouragement to others brought confidence and reassurance to him. He was a ruler. It was his job to know what was taking place among his people, so when he began to hear alarming reports of a countermovement in his country, he decided to investigate. From behind the scenes, he gathered all the information he could. The more he learned, the more baffled and confused he became. Facts just did not add up in his mind. He concluded that his next step must be a private meeting with the movement's leader. But how could he get to him? During the day the leader was constantly surrounded by hostile critics and zealous followers. He concluded that the best time would be at night. Arrangements were made, and when the night arrived, he was present with carefully thought out questions. No sooner had the conversation begun than the one whom he was questioning made an unusual statement and an even more unusual analogy. The analogy related to an event which had taken place in their nation's history many years earlier. Thousands of poisonous snakes had come in and bitten the people. When the victims cried out to God, He commanded Moses to make a brass snake and nail it on a pole. Then all those who believed the Word of God were to go outside the camp and look at that snake. Those who obeyed were healed. The baffled ruler slipped out into the darkness of that night still pondering what he had heard. He continued to listen and watch and think. Then one day it all became clear. The one who gave him that analogy was nailed to a wooden cross just as the serpent was nailed to the pole. Now it was opportunity to fulfill that analogy. He got up, walked outside the city, and looked upon Jesus, fully believing the Word of God. Then, Nicodemus honored Christ by providing one hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes for His burial. [From John 3:1-21; 19:16-40]
Why Did Nicodemus Come to Jesus at Night?The Pharisee's decision to visit Jesus during the evening may have been motivated simply by caution and convenience. Nicodemus was an influential leader. People looked to him for advice and counsel in religious matters. He wanted to know what Jesus was teaching to compare it to the traditional teaching of the scribes. He felt that this could best be accomplished by means of a private interview, away from the atmosphere of hostile critics and zealous followers. Furthermore, it was almost impossible to find time to meet with the Lord during the day. Because of His ministry of healing, Jesus was besieged by crowds. A quiet, uninterrupted discussion during the evening hours, possibly in the home of one of the disciples, would have been ideal for Nicodemus's purpose.
Who Did Nicodemus Think Jesus Was at First?Nicodemus thought Jesus was a prophet like Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha. "...Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him" (John 3:2). Nicodemus knew that miracles in his nation's history were relatively rare. Most had occurred during two periods --- the first during Israel's deliverance from Egypt and their occupation of Canaan, the second during a time of great apostasy under the reign of Ahab. Throughout both eras, God used miracles to warn the wicked and to encourage the faithful. Now Jesus performed signs and wonders of the same nature as these former men of God, and Nicodemus was perceptive enough to recognize this. It is significant that he was open to the truth and had not hardened his heart like some of his fellow Pharisees who had attributed Jesus' works to Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. (See Matthew 12:22-24.) To Nicodemus, Jesus was a man from God, but He was still only a man.
Why Did Nicodemus Become So Bold After the Lord's Death?It is interesting that the same event which caused the Lord's disciples to desert and deny Him, to become discouraged and to cower in fear behind closed doors, had just the opposite effect on Nicodemus. Why did he take no thought for his reputation, position, or wealth to assist in the burial of Jesus? The disciples viewed the crucifixion as a catastrophe, ending their cause and future hopes. Nicodemus was stirred to action by the same event. Nicodemus had believed that Jesus was a prophet sent by God. Jesus had told him, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:14-15). When Nicodemus saw Jesus lifted up on the cross, he remembered those words. This story which Nicodemus knew so well took on new meaning. Jesus was not just a prophet, He was the Suffering Servant predicted by Isaiah. He was more than a prophet, He was his Redeemer.
Illustrated in the World of Nature:There are two kinds of lemmings --- the common and the collared. Only collard lemmings turn white in the winter. The arctic lemming of North America is one of several collared varieties. It is clearly distinguished from the common lemming by a golden collar that contrasts with its chestnut pelt. Lemmings are plump little animals related to the mouse. They are from four to five inches long including their stubby tails. They eat tremendous amounts of food and carry out emigrations every three to four years.
How Are the Consequences of Unkindness Illustrated in the World of Nature?Shrill hissing and sharp, snapping teeth served as a warning to either move or get bitten. These ominous sounds did not come from some attacking predator. They came from a neighbor --- one of his own kind. This fellow lemming could have had plenty to eat if he would just move to a different level on the mountainous terrain. But the intruder wanted what he saw at that moment and was willing to fight for it. Another his was given and then sharp teeth flashed in the cold arctic air --- the defender was bitten. The wounded lemming was forced to leave the safety of his nest and feeding ground and retreat to unfamiliar territory. There he encountered more hissing and snapping from other lemmings who had also been forced to abandon their nests. After receiving several more wounds, he fled down the mountainside. Soon many others followed him and forced him to move again. This continued until one day he found himself at the edge of a high cliff overlooking a mountain river. His attempt to retrace his steps was prevented by fellow lemmings. Panic gripped him as he found himself being pushed over the precipice. Down he went, rolling, bouncing, and tumbling into the swirling water below! He surfaced and swam frantically to the bank. As he crawled up on the shore, hundreds more followed him. Soon their ranks were swelled with converging migrations of other lemmings. Hissing and biting continued among them as new destruction came upon them. Caribou used their sharp hooves to trample many, while they bit and swallowed others whole. The crowded conditions produced new hazards to their survival as an epidemic of "lemming fever" broke out among them, decimating their ranks. Then hungry bears, attracted to the hordes, devoured as many lemmings as they could. One destruction after another came as the contentious throng continued slowly down the mountainside. The more they traveled together, the more aggressive they became. Noisy fights broke out among them. Suddenly, the lemming halted. Before him was a large body of water; he was a good swimmer, but the choppy waves signaled danger. Forced by the press of the crowd, he plunged in --- and there was no turning back. Squabbles ended as each one swam desperately forward. Some were able to swim farther than others, but none reached the other shore. This destruction is a vivid illustration of the consequences of unkindness.
The Characteristics of the Arctic Lemming in Scripture:The voracious appetite and irritable nature of the lemming provide a vivid illustration of what happens among people who sacrifice kindness for personal gain.
"From whence com wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even if your lusts that war in your members?" ~ James 4:1Lemmings fight each other to feed themselves. Scripture warns against such behavior among Christians.
"But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another" ~ Galatians 5:15In the beginning, mankind tended to become like lemmings by congregating in cities rather than scattering throughout the world.
"So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city" ~ Genesis 11:8The dangers of the herd instinct among the lemmings is a precise illustration of the dangers of joining a demonstration against authority. (See Exodus 23:2.) The amazing march of the lemmings to destruction is a tragic illustration of crowd pressure among unbelievers.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat" ~ Matthew 7:13