The Call to Practice Kindness

          A few months after moving to a small town, a woman complained to a neighbor about the poor service at the local drug store.  She hoped the new acquaintance would repeat her complaint to the owner.  The next time she was in the drug store, the druggist greeted her with a big smile and told her how glad he was to see her.  He provided excellent service.

          Later the woman reported the drastic change to her friend.  She said, “I suppose you told the druggist how poor I thought the service was, and that’s why he changed?”

          “No,” the new acquaintance said, “I told him you were amazed at how he had built up this small town drug store and you thought it was one of the best-run drug stores you had ever seen!”  Her kindness to the druggist spurred kindness from the druggist that was passed along to this customer. 

          Kindness is contagious.  The owner of a drive-through coffee business was surprised one morning to have one of her customers pay for her own purchase and also for the drink of the person behind her. The owner smiled as she told the next customer her drink had already been paid for.  The second customer was so pleased she bought coffee for the next customer.  This string of kindness, one stranger paying for the drink of the next customer, continued for two hours and 27 customers.

          We live in a world that is often short on kindness.  In fact, some people get downright cruel and cutting.  If we’re not careful, we’ll get calloused, crusty and cynical.  That’s easy to do.  You’re nice to someone, and they take advantage of your kindness.  So, you put up your guard and you’re suspicious of another’s intentions.

Or you find yourself in an unhealthy corporate world of shady ethics and of whatever it takes to increase the profit margin.  You see people stepping on each other, stabbing each other in the back and find yourself in an atmosphere of survival of the fittest.  Where does kindness fit in?

          The believer understands that God calls us to practice a life of kindness.  The Bible commands us to put on kindness (Colossians 3:12) and to “be kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:32).  Kindness is a deliberate choice.  That kindness is commanded implies that we could choose to be unkind, harsh or short.  Kindness is a fruit of relying on God to help us live our life daily.

          Jesus illustrates how to live a life of kindness in the story known as “The Good Samaritan.”  Jesus was confronted by an expert in the law who asked Him, “Who is my neighbor?”

          Jesus told about a man who was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho.  Thieves assaulted the traveler, beat him and left him for dead.  Sometime later, a priest came down the road, but Jesus said the priest ignored the need.  Then another religious leader, a Levite, came up on the man but he would not help either.  He, too, went on his way. After that, a Samaritan came upon the wounded man and immediately had compassion upon him.  He administered aid to his wounds, loaded the man upon his animal, and took it upon himself to get the man to the nearest inn where he could rest and convalesce.  The Samaritan even paid for the room! 

          This was a surprise twist to the story because the Jews detested the Samaritans.  While the religious leaders who knew better looked the other way, this humble Samaritan responded with kindness and goodness.  As the story developed, the real question was not “Who is my neighbor?” but “To whom should I act neighborly?” 

Of course, the answer is “everyone.”  A related question is “How is ‘being neighborly’ defined?”  Through kindness, availability, usefulness, getting involved and helping anyone in need.

          I heard about a man who had a quirky habit.  He carried a little can of oil with him everywhere he went, and if he passed through a door that squeaked, he poured a little oil on the hinges until it squeaked no more.  If the gate was hard to open, he oiled the latch.  He spent his entire life lubricating squeaky places and making it easier for those who came after him.  That’s what God calls us to do.

          Are you keeping your oil can full?

Dr. David Chancey