Lessons from what Jesus didn’t do
We’ve all heard WWJD (what would Jesus do?). Here’s a twist on that idea: WWJND (what would Jesus not do?).
Special to The Seattle Times
Faith & Values
It’s still a good question, though some might think it’s rather passé. It probably didn’t help that, in the 1990s, the four-letter acronym for this query became ultra-commercialized and overused on everything from bumper stickers and mugs to wall plaques and rubberized wristbands: WWJD. (OK, yes. I had the wristband.)
Even so, honestly asking “What would Jesus do?” could make a world of difference in a world of brokenness. Interestingly, that question had its origin in an 1896 novel written by Charles Sheldon and titled “In His Steps.” The subtitle of Sheldon’s book was (you guessed it): What Would Jesus Do?
Lately, I’ve been asking myself a different version of that question:
WWJND. What would Jesus NOT do? This concept really grabbed me as I worked on a chapter about kindness in my newly released book, “The Jesus-hearted Woman: 10 Leadership Qualities for Enduring & Endearing Influence.”
While Jesus did so much to show us the kindness of God through his actions, what he did not do was also a revelation of divine kindness. What would Jesus not do? Here are a few biblical examples of those “nots”:
• He did not cling to his “deity rights,” though he was God’s son. (Philippians 2:6-11).
• He did not cast the first stone at the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:1-11)
• He did not call down fire from heaven (as his disciples urged) on an unwelcoming Samaritan village. (Luke 9:52-56)
• He did not seek human popularity. (John 8:50)
• He did not pander to the rich and ignore the poor. (Luke 21:1-4)
• He did not send away the children who were brought to him. (Mark 10:13-16)
• He did not exclude his society’s outcasts: the lepers, prostitutes and foreigners. (See the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John for many examples.)
• He did not allow his disciples to defend him with violence. (John 18:10-11)
• He didn’t call for angelic rescue when he was arrested. (Matthew 26:50-54)
• He did not answer his accusers. (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14)
• He did not come down from the cross but took the punishment for humanity’s sins. (Mark 15:28-32)
Kindness by omission — it’s a remarkable thought. And while we will never be able to match the “omission-al kindness“ of Jesus, there are plenty of things we can refrain from doing out of sheer kindheartedness. Here are a few that come to mind:
• We can refuse to correct every little mistake made in our presence. Do our spouses, kids, co-workers and friends really need us to point out every minor flaw in their grammar, cooking, driving, clothes-folding, art project, dishwasher loading, logic, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera? Sure, there are occasions when it’s good to offer helpful correction. But might it be a kindness to resign from the role of full-time Quality Control Director for the Human Race?
• We can choose not to “overshine.” This is a tricky one. As we go through life, we each develop certain areas of skill and expertise — ways that we shine. And most of the time we should shine, and as brightly as possible, in those areas. But occasionally it’s an act of kindness to hit the dimmer switch, to pull back our brightness a notch or two. We’ve all seen a beginner’s halting performance and knew it was their “not-great-but-the-best-they-had-to-give” offering. And we’ve all probably cringed when someone else with years of experience and much greater skill stepped up with an air of superiority to bump them out of the spotlight and show them how it really should be done. Overshining. Not doing it is a kindness.
• We can stop keeping score. Here’s the thing: My guess is that already today (or at least this week) you’ve had reason to wince from the hurt inflicted by some other human, whether intentionally delivered or not. Some of those hurts are relatively minor. We are bruised in many ways — perhaps from being slighted, or from someone’s sarcastic comment. Other wounds are more like bone-deep, open gashes — a spouse’s betrayal, a trusted friend’s rejection, a family member’s estrangement. When we are hurt, we don’t need to get even ... we need healing. Yes, we might need to shore up boundaries, or seek mediation and counseling, or even withdraw from the relationship if it is relentlessly damaging. But refusing to keep score and pay back every perceived wrong is one sure way to live a life of kindness. 1 Peter 4:8 says: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Maybe it’s time to create a “what not to do” list. WNTD. It’s one way to do kindness. And I think Jesus would approve.
Jodi Detrick is a minister with the Northwest Ministry Network (Assemblies of God). She is also a public speaker, an author and a life coach. Readers may send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
About Jodi Detrick
Jodi Detrick serves the Northwest Ministry Network (Assemblies of God) as Women's Ministries Director. She is also a public speaker, an author and a Life Coach. Readers may send feedback to email@example.com