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Kindness, Week 1

God Was Kind to Us

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to others because God is kind to you.

Sallie Jessup and Mae Lin lived in the same town and went to the same school. And both girls had their own YouTube shows about slime that racked up views from all over the world. Mae’s show was called “Get Slimed with Mae!” while Sallie hosted “Sallie’s Slime Creations.”

The two girls were polite when they passed each other in the hall at school. But they weren’t exactly friends.

“I’m doing glow-in-the-dark slime next week, so you should do something different,” Mae suggested.

“Look, I give my viewers what they want,” Sallie pointed out.

“Which is basically the same thing over and over,” noted Mae. “Rainbow sand slime. Rainbow unicorn slime. Rainbow crunchy slime—”

“You’re just jealous of how many views my rainbow glitter slime got,” huffed Sallie. “Plus, you use Borax in your slime. It’s not safe.”

“Is too!” Mae declared.

Sallie shook her head. “Liquid starch is way better.”

The school bell rang, and the two girls glared at each other before heading in opposite directions.

A few days later, Mae watched Sallie’s newest episode on her computer as she prepped slime ingredients for her own recording.

After the theme played—

“She should really getter better theme music,” Mae scoffed.

—Sallie appeared on screen to launch the episode wearing a polka dot apron.

“Here’s a super-important PSA before we get started,” she bubbled. “You’ve probably seen some slime recipes that use Borax. But Borax isn’t safe or healthy!”

“Hey! That is not true,” Mae shouted at the screen.

“I know there’s another YouTube show telling you to use Borax for the best slime,” Sallie added. “But in my opinion, you should just unsubscribe that channel.”

“WHAT?!” Mae shrieked.

Sallie turned all smiles and announced, “And now, it’s time for some rainbow fluffy slime!”

“You have got to be kidding,” Mae exclaimed. “She just told thousands of people to stop watching my show! Well I am unsubbing her right now!”

Mae closed out Sallie’s show immediately. But she couldn’t stop thinking about what Sallie had done.

“I cannot believe her!” Mae muttered, simmering inside.

In the cafeteria at school the next day, Sallie came by the lunch table where Mae was sitting with several other friends.

“Can I sit here?” Sallie asked, ready to set her tray in an empty space across the table.

The others girls nodded, but Mae frowned. “No way! She can’t sit here!” Sallie looked hurt, but moved on.

Later, when Sallie spilled her backpack at the lockers, Mae pretended not to notice. Instead of stopping to help, she marched right on past.

That evening when Mae recorded her next episode, she added her own announcement. “Today on Get Slimed with Mae, I’ve got an amazing guest to tell us all about the science of slime!” she began. “But first, I need to warn you about another slime channel. Someone’s telling you not to use Borax. Well, you should hit unsubscribe fast, ’cause she’s a liar. Borax is completely safe and makes the best slime!”

Taking a deep breath, she turned on her own smile. “Now, it’s time to welcome our guest, Wendy Newton! She’s a chemistry expert.”

Mae switched to a split screen with her guest, a middle-aged woman with wild curly hair and sleepy eyes.

“Hey, Wendy! Welcome to the show,” said Mae. “I’m honored to be here,” answered Wendy.

“I gotta ask,” said Mae, “you think Borax is the best thing to use for slime, right?”

“Borax is great if it’s used correctly,” Wendy agreed. “I think God has given each of us the smarts to look up safety guidelines and be wise about it.”

“Oh. Yeah,” said Mae. “Of course. So let’s get down to it! You’re a chemist. How cool is that?!”

“You could say we’re all chemists,” Wendy noted. “I mean, just baking brownies is chemistry.”

Mae nodded. “That’s right! What kind of amazing chemistry are you whipping up for your dinner?”

Wendy stifled a yawn. “Oh, it’s actually . . . uh, 3 a.m. here.” Mae blinked in surprise. “Wait, what?”

“I’m in Dubai right now,” Wendy explained.

“But that’s like halfway around the world, so it’s night . . .” Mae stumbled over her words as she realized what had happened. She felt terrible. “Ooooh, I am so sorry! I woke you up!”

“It’s all right,” said Wendy.

“You said that in your email!” Mae recalled. “I forgot!” “It’s okay, really.”

“You’re being so nice about it!” wailed Mae.

“Hey, kind is cool,” Wendy pointed out. “There’s this verse in the Bible in the book of Ephesians. It’s sort of my motto: ‘Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive one another, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done.’”Mae frowned. She had to admit that she wasn’t great at being kind when someone made her angry.

“I’ve messed up so many times,” Wendy continued. “And God has wiped the slate clean every single time. That makes it a lot easier to forgive when other people make mistakes.”

“Like calling in the middle of the night,” said Mae, ruefully. Wendy smiled. “Hey, aren’t we a little off-topic from slime?”

Mae nodded. “Um, I think I’m gonna have to restart this recording. I said some stuff about someone else I need to delete. And . . . how about I call you back in the morning? I mean, my-morning-your-afternoon?”

“That sounds fantastic,” said Wendy as she yawned again.

After Mae ended the call, she leaned back in her chair and released a long breath. “I haven’t been very kind,” she admitted to herself. “At all. Even a little.”

Grabbing her phone, Mae started a DM to Sallie.

Hey, I’m sorry about the lunch table thing. I think rainbow slime is pretty cool. Maybe we should do a show together sometime.

Mae wasn’t sure how Sallie would respond. But she felt a lot better now she’d taken a step toward being kind—instead of focusing on payback.

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You probably see lots of people talking about kindness these days.

At school . . . online . . . even on t-shirts and road signs. And that’s great! But sometimes it’s easier to talk about being kind than to actually be kind—especially when someone messes up or makes you angry. Share with each other what you think it looks like to show kindness in your everyday life. There are lots of times we simply don’t feel like being kind. But here’s the awesome thing: You don’t have to do it on your own. God showed us the most amazing kindness when He made a way for each of us to be forgiven for our mistakes because of what Jesus has done. God shows us each kindness every day, and because of that, we can show His love and kindness to the people around us. Together, brainstorm several ways you could show kindness this week. Then pray for each other, that God will help you to be kind to each person you meet, as you remember His kindness toward you.

Coming Soon

Kindness, Week 2

Ruth and Boaz

Ruth 1 & 2

Be kind to your family and friends.

In the land of Moab lived a young woman named Ruth. She married a man from Judah and probably dreamed of having a large family and many children.

But Ruth’s happily-ever-after ended before it began. Her husband died, and so did his brother. That left Ruth alone with her sister-in-law, Orpah, and her mother-in- law, Naomi—whose husband had died too.

“I have nothing left,” Naomi realized.

Naomi had come to live in Moab during a famine in Judah. But she heard there was once again plentiful food in her homeland—so she decided to make the trip back home.

“Ruth. Orpah,” she addressed her daughters-in-law. “Go back to your family homes! May the Lord show you kindness as you’ve shown me.”

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and left. But Ruth wouldn’t budge.

“I’m going with you.”

“Look, your sister-in-law is going back to her people!” Naomi pointed out.

“Don’t try to make me leave you and go back,” said Ruth. “Where you go I’ll go. Where you stay I’ll stay. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God.”

So Ruth and Naomi made the long, dusty journey together. At last, the two women arrived in Naomi’s hometown of Bethlehem. Everywhere along the road, barley rippled in the breeze, golden and ready for harvest.

The people of Bethlehem were shocked when they saw their former neighbor.

“Is that Naomi?” wondered one.

“She don’t look so good,” said another.

“Don’t call me Naomi!” warned Naomi. “[God] has made my life bitter. I was full when I went away. But the Lord has brought me back empty.”

“Don’t listen to them,” Ruth encouraged her mother-in-law. “You just need dinner and a nap.”

Finding food was their top priority. “The grain is being harvested right now,” Ruth pointed out. “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftovers.”

“Go, my daughter,” agree Naomi.

The law instructed landowners to leave behind some of the harvest for people who needed food. So Ruth followed behind the harvesters, gathering every bit of barley that fell to the ground. She worked hard, through the heat of the day.

In the afternoon, the owner of the field, Boaz, came out to survey the harvest. “The Lord be with you!” he called to the workers.

“The Lord bless you!” replied the harvesters.

Boaz spotted Ruth hard at work and asked his overseer, “Who is that young

woman?”

“She came back from Moab with Naomi,” explained the overseer. “She asked if she could pick up the extra grain and has barely rested all day.”

Boaz was moved by Ruth’s care for Naomi. He waded through the barley to speak with her. “Stay here and follow along where the men are harvesting,” he told her. “I will make sure no one bothers you. And when you are thirsty, get a drink from the water jars.”

“Why are you so kind to me, a foreigner?” asked Ruth.

“I’ve been told what you have done for your mother-in-law,” Boaz told her, “how you left your homeland to come here. May the Lord reward you.”

Boaz even offered Ruth bread and roasted grain to eat. At the end of the day, she was able to bring a large amount of grain home to Naomi.

Ruth continued to work in Boaz’s fields until the end of the grain harvest. But even then, life would have been very difficult at that time for two women living alone. So Naomi laid out a plan for Ruth.

“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth agreed.

At the end of the harvest, the workers threshed the grain to separate the edible kernels from the straw. Then they held a big celebration. When the meal was over and the lights burned low, Boaz laid down near the pile of grain to sleep.

Ruth arrived and approached Boaz, just as Naomi had told her to do. She folded the blanket away from his feet, and lay down nearby.

Later, Boaz woke up, startled. “Who’s there?!” he cried out.

“It’s me, Ruth,” she said softly. “Please give me your protection since you’re responsible for our family.”

Boaz was surprised—but what Ruth had said was true.

“The Lord bless you,” he began. “Don’t be afraid; I’ll do what you ask. Everyone knows you are wise and kind.”

Though Boaz agreed to help Ruth, there was another family member who was a closer relative than Boaz who could possibly help too. So in the morning, Boaz went to find the man and the town elders to settle the matter.

“I will buy Naomi’s land and also marry Ruth,” he declared. “If you will let me.”

“Well, I sure can’t purchase Naomi’s land and take care of my own land too!” responded the other man, and gave his permission.

Boaz called out to everyone assembled, “Today you are all my witnesses that I will buy Naomi’s land and marry her daughter-in-law Ruth!”

As soon as it could be arranged, Boaz and Ruth were married. Naomi came to live with them. And a short time later, Ruth and Boaz had a brand-new baby boy. They named him Obed.

Naomi delighted in caring for the child. Through the kindness of Boaz and Ruth, Naomi now had a brand-new home—and new family too. Everyone saw the difference in her face.

“Praise be to the Lord!” they declared. “He’s given you a new lease on life, Naomi. Ruth is better to you than seven sons!”

Ruth’s story doesn’t end there. Her son Obed later had a son named Jesse, who had a son named David. King David! And many hundreds of years later, a new baby boy was born in Bethlehem as a descendent of King David.

His name was Jesus.

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Be kind to your family and friends.

It seems obvious, right? But sometimes it’s most difficult to be kind to the people you love. They see the best of you—and the worst. You get on autopilot and take each other for granted. Together, brainstorm some ways you could create a culture of kindness in your home—in the morning, after school, and in the evening. Pray together, that God will help you to make kindness a way of life for your family.

Coming Soon

Kindness, Week 3

Go the Extra Mile

Matthew 5:41

Be kinder than you have to be.

Jesus was rocking the world. Everywhere He traveled, He told the good news of God’s kingdom. He called people to turn away from the wrong things they had done. He healed sick people.

One day, Jesus went up to a mountainside to teach His disciples. He sat down to share with them how God wants us to live. After all, God created us. He knows that we are designed to find joy and be at peace when we follow His ways . . . when we see and treat others the way God does.

While Jesus was teaching His disciples, a crowd of people who had gathered were listening in. As Jesus taught, in what we call “The Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus said:

“Suppose someone forces you to go one mile. Go two miles with them.”

To our ears, this sounds like a word problem. Or your PE teacher making you run laps.

But Jesus’ disciples and the people listening knew exactly what He meant. They all lived under the rule of the Caesar in Rome. The Romans had conquered many, many territories. Judea had become a province of the Roman Empire, and Roman soldiers were sent to keep order.

Jesus and all the people He taught lived under Roman rule. They had to obey the laws of Rome, including one that decreed:

“Any Roman soldier may force a Jew to carry his pack for precisely one mile.”

That may not seem like a huge deal, but being a Roman soldier was not for wimps. Sometimes the packs they carried weighed as much as one hundred pounds! It took real grit and stamina to march for miles carrying that much gear. So it wasn’t unusual for a soldier to call on a random person along the road to haul their pack for one mile—or about a thousand steps.

If that person said “no,” it was considered an act of rebellion against the Roman Empire!

Now imagine that you’re an everyday, ordinary Average Joe—or Joseph. You’re hiking along the road, maybe on your way to Jerusalem, when you look up, and in the distance you see a Roman soldier heading your way!

Your first thought would be to turn around and head back the other way, or get off the road and head into a grove of olive trees.

If the soldier was too close, you would avoid eye contact at all costs! But imagine none of that works.

The soldier stops.
Calls you out.
And you’ve got no choice but to look up.

The soldier orders you to take his heavy pack and haul it along for a whole mile. You can’t fight the Roman Empire, so you pick up the pack.

And then it’s . . . forward march!

You’re probably counting your steps the whole way. 58 . . . 59 . . .

Just waiting until you can drop that pack. 681 . . . 682 . . .

You’re holding out until you can get away from this soldier who sees you as scum.998…999…one thousand!

That’s it! You’re free! Roman law says the soldier can’t make you go more than one mile, so you can toss that pack like it’s hot and run for home!

Except Jesus says something else.

“Suppose someone forces you to go one mile. Go two miles with them.”

You had to carry that pack the first mile.
You had no choice.
But now, you get to choose.
And if you choose to carry that pack for another mile, it says a lot!

It says, “I matter. I’m valuable, just like you are, and I can make my own choices.”

But it also says, “You matter. This is a really heavy load you have to carry. And I’m going to help you because I choose to do it. Not because I have to.”

“Go the extra mile,” doesn’t just mean, “Go big or go home.”

“Going the extra mile,” means that you make a choice to help someone. To be kind.

You choose an action that says, “I’m doing this for you because I want to— not because I have to. I’m doing it because you are made in the image of God, and that makes you valuable to Him and to me.”

So remember that even though you may not live in an empire, you can still go the extra mile.

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What are some of your rules at home and at school that address how you treat other people?

Take a moment and make a list. It may include things like “don’t hit your brother” or “don’t cut in the lunch line.” Those are good and important things. But Jesus says that true kindness goes further than just following the rules. It means not only that you don’t hit your brother—but that maybe you let him take the last cookie. At school, it’s not just about whether you cut in line—but maybe in PE, you pick that kid for your team who everyone else thinks is different. Together, brainstorm at least three ways this week that you could show kindness where you don’t “have” to. Pray for each other, that God will show you opportunities to “go the extra mile” each day.

Coming Soon

Kindness, Week 4

Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37

Be kind to people who are different from you.

Everywhere Jesus went, crowds of people followed. His popularity made the religious leaders nervous—the way He turned their expectations upside down. So they began to look for ways to trip Him up.

One day, a law expert saw his chance to test Jesus. “Teacher . . . what must I do to receive eternal life?” he demanded.

Jesus turned the question right back on the law expert. “What is written in the Law? How do you understand it?”

The law expert quoted Scripture to answer Jesus: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and with all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” replied Jesus. “Do that, and you will live.” But the law expert wanted to discover the least he could do to obey the law.

So he got tricky. “Ah yes. But really, who is my neighbor?” he inquired.

Jesus looked directly at the law expert and saw what was in his heart. So Jesus told a story. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho . . .” He began.

If Jesus told the story to us today, it might sound something like this . . .

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A man we’ll call Ben needed to travel from Jerusalem to Jericho. It was a rugged, lonely road, but he was well-prepared with food and water and a stash of cash for the trip.

Unfortunately, a band of robbers attacked Ben! They took everything, leaving him half dead by the side of the road.

He cried out for help, but there was no one to hear.

The sun beat down.

Shadows shifted as the day wore on.

At last, Ben heard footsteps! Painfully, he lifted his head. Through shimmers of heat, he could see a man in khakis and a blue button-down shirt.

“In the beginning!” murmured the man, a preacher working on his Sunday morning sermon. “Hrm. Let me Google the Greek word for ‘beginning’ . . . that will make me sound more intelligent.”

“Help me!” Ben called weakly.

The preacher spotted Ben lying in the dust. But he quickly glanced down at his phone and pretended not to see. Instead, he crossed to the other side of the road—putting as much distance as he could between himself and Ben.

In moments, the preacher was gone.
Ben’s throat was dry now.
He could barely swallow.

Finally, he heard someone again. A worship leader was trekking down the road, singing loudly along with the music in his ears. He wore skinny jeans, an unnecessary scarf, and tiny AirPods.

“Help! Help me!” cried Ben.

The worship leader definitely saw Ben. But he cranked up the volume on his AirPods and shimmied to the other side of the road as he passed.

As the man’s voice faded away, Ben was left in despair. The shadows lengthened as evening approached.

Once again, Ben heard someone coming. Turning his head, he could just make out a man on a donkey. Perhaps Ben could tell from the way the man dressed that he wasn’t a Jew. In fact—the man was a Samaritan.

“Oh no . . .” breathed Ben.

Jews and Samaritans were enemies. Even though they were related, these groups had a history of bitter conflict. And the Samaritans worshiped God differently than the Jews did. A Samaritan was the very last person Ben would have wished to find him.

Instead of ignoring Ben, though, the Samaritan man slowed down!

“Oh no!” the man exclaimed. “Who did this to you?”

The Samaritan quickly rummaged for supplies in his bag. “Here, have some water!” he offered, putting a cup to Ben’s lips. “Those are nasty gashes. I’ve got some medicine to clean them out . . .”

The Samaritan bandaged Ben’s wounds and helped the man up. By the time darkness fell, the Samaritan brought Ben to an inn where the injured man could recover.

In the morning, the Samaritan gave the innkeeper some money. “Please take care of this man,” he instructed. “I’ll return and pay you back for any extra expenses.”

“Goodbye!” Ben called as the Samaritan went on his way. “Thank you!”

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When Jesus finished the story, no one said a word. He looked directly at the law expert.

“Which of the three do you think was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by robbers?” asked Jesus.

The expert fidgeted. To admit that the Samaritan had acted as a true neighbor was to say that everyone is a neighbor . . . no matter how different they may be.

“I suppose…in this case…one would have to say…the man who had mercy on him,” admitted the law expert.

“Go and do as he did,” Jesus told him.

Jesus’ story was clear. “Love your neighbor as yourself” isn’t limited to the people in your neighborhood. Your neighbor is anyone who needs you to show them God’s love.

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If someone smiles and waves, it’s easy to smile back.

When a friend helps you study for a test, it’s easy to share your lunch with them. If your little brother takes your turn walking the dog, you might actually feel like taking his turn to load the dishwasher. But what about people who aren’t kind to you? Share with each other one or more times in the past month or so when someone has been unkind or ignored you. How did you respond? What are some ways you could show kindness, even to someone who has been unkind? Pray for each other, that God would help you show His love and kindness to everyone—not just the people who are also kind to you.