At the end of my sermon in the two services I preached last Sunday, I quoted some words from a retired minister and friend of mine, Mike Selleck. I mentioned that Mike uses these words as a benediction after he preaches or after he has some done some teaching. This is what he says…
“Be kind to everyone you meet. You have no idea what someone may be dealing with. Everyone is facing choices of one type or another, sometimes big, sometimes not so big, but everyone is struggling at some level and your kindness is always welcome. Who knows? You might just be the one God has sent to be the answer to someone’s prayers. And you can only do that if you are paying attention. Blessings, Amen!”
After each of the services ended, I had people approach me and ask me for a copy of those words. That doesn’t normally happen. So later, I started reflecting on why those words struck such a chord with so many.
It occurred to me that one reason is because kindness today seems to be in such short supply. So many people today seem to be so angry about almost everything. Many of us were taught that there are two things you don’t want to talk about in mixed company: politics and religion. But now, you can expand that to just about anything and somebody is bound to get mad about something. I suspect that someone is likely to even be offended that I have written about the subject of kindness.
It also occurred to me that one of the reasons kindness may be in such short supply is because there are a lot of hurting people. It is hard to be kind to others when your own heart is breaking. The other day I was watching a television show. A teenager was rude, treated others with contempt, and appeared self-centered and self-absorbed. He was the character on the show nobody liked. Later in the show, it turned out his father had just died a very tragic death and he was still in the anger phase of his grief. I wonder how many people are like that young boy.
Then too, I know there are some who seem to think kindness is equivalent to weakness and loud brashness conveys strength. Maybe I’m old fashioned here, but I think it’s just the opposite. Rudeness, incivility, a sharp tongue that can’t be held in check are all an indication to me that people lack the inner strength to control themselves.
I’m not suggesting that there aren’t times to be firm, take a stand, or speak your mind. Of course there are. In the New Testament, we see Jesus do that regularly. But one of the differences is that Jesus didn’t go around making casualties of people. He looked for ways to speak the truth in love.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote, “…be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (4:32) In my own struggle with kindness, it helps me to remember then when I am kind to others I am actually reflecting the kindness that God has shown to me.