2 Samuel 9:1–10:19; 1 Peter 5:1–14; Psalm 138:1–8
When I was a teenager, I became serious about showing unsolicited kindness while working through a 30-day intensive devotional. The devotional required me to record an act of kindness each day. My efforts included things as mundane as taking out the trash before being asked and closing schoolmates’ lockers to prevent them from becoming the victims of pranks. Although the acts were simple, and mostly meaningless, the effort taught me a discipline. Kindness should be intentional, not random. But what if your kindness stems from guilt?
In 2 Samuel 9, King David shows intentional kindness to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, by offering them Saul’s land after Saul and Jonathan have died. It’s hard to know why David does this, especially since it puts him at risk—his association with the previous regime could anger his warriors, who fought against Saul. Is David merely being a good guy? Does he feel guilty because Jonathan, who had been so loyal to him, died in battle? Is he trying to establish that he is a merciful ruler? Does he have other political motives? The question of David’s motive evokes another one: Why do we treat others well?
Peter addressed this question of motive in his first letter, in which he exhorts ministers to “Shepherd the flock of God among you [being the people of the church], exercising oversight not by compulsion but willingly, in accordance with God” (1 Pet 5:2). He points out that if we are moved by compulsion, our motives are probably wrong.
There are times I wonder whether I treat others well because I subconsciously think that it will earn me points with them or with God. I battle this—it’s something we should all fight against. The state of the heart when helping others is every bit as important as the act itself.
What motivates your acts of kindness? What pure, kind, and intentional act can you perform today?
John D. Barry
 Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.