Whether on purpose or by accident, we have been rude or unkind to others.
Perhaps it was to family members or close friends, people with whom we get the opportunity to apologize and change our ways. But sometimes we are rude to people we don’t know at the grocery store, on the street, or at school. It can be easy to be rude, especially to those we don’t know and never expect to see again.
In Judaism, any unkindness or immoral or unethical behavior is classified as a chillul HaShem, which means “a desecration of God’s name.” Judaism applies this term to a Jewish person who acts in an unfitting manner because the Jews are thought to be the representatives of HaShem here on earth. However, this term can be applied to all disciples, Jew or Gentile, since as disciples we are all acting as representatives of HaShem.
Have you ever desecrated God’s name? It’s not so hard to do. It’s harder to be kind and compassionate to anyone and everyone. It’s especially hard when that person is annoying or also rude themselves. But as believers—especially if we admit to our friends and social circles that we are believers—we must hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Kindness is not always valued in our society. Being cut-throat to reach your goals is more respected. Or in school, being the cool kid who is too good to hang out with everyone is idealized. But this is backward.
The brilliant American writer Mark Twain once wrote: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Kindness is the complete opposite of chillul HaShem; it is a kiddush HaShem (sanctification of God’s name). As representatives of God, and of his Messiah, this should be the language we speak. Yeshua himself tells us that the world will recognize us as his disciples by our love for one another.
By claiming to be believers, we claim to represent God. If that is true, we must reflect his love for humanity and stifle our evil inclination to be mean or to be fixed only on our own desires. When we are mean for no reason, we desecrate God’s name, even if those to whom we are mean don’t know about our faith.
We represent more than just ourselves. As children of God, we represent our Father, who is Love. As disciples of Yeshua, we represent our Messiah, who is the essence of God’s love. How are we doing?