|Photo by Amelia Grace Photography|
I was at the grocery store today, when I noticed a stoic gentleman next to me. We were browsing the same section of soups. I was examining a can of chicken and wild rice, when it occurred to me that I might be in his way. I offered for him to just tell me if he needed me to move. He plainly and sort of gruffly replied that I was not in the way.
A short while later, I went to pay for my items. Ahead of me in the checkout line was the same man. The cashier was visibly talkative and friendly, yet the man was as quiet and concrete as before. When it was my turn, I moved to the card swipe and waited for my total, in the meantime smiling and making friendly small talk with the same cashier.
“Do you have any coupons?” she asked me. I shook my head that I did not.
That is when she reached into her register’s drawer and pulled out a reel of coupons, scanning relevant ones. As she did this, she smiled, I thanked her, and then she commented on how unfriendly that guy had been. That is when this friendly, warm woman said something I wasn’t expecting: “If they’re not nice to me, I am not going to help them.”
We concluded the conversation by agreeing that maybe he had just been having a bad day, but I still left repeating that sentence in my mind, not wanting to forget it so I could share it with you. The truth is that I wonder how many of us think that on any given day. How many of us quietly qualify or disqualify people to be recipients of our kindness?
She was simply saying aloud what many of us think. I know there have been times that I’ve thought that – and acted on it (with a smile still on my face) - That if So-and-So isn’t nice to me, I won’t be nice to him or her. Why should I? After all, isn’t that how the world works? There it is: When I find myself operating in more of the world’s way, that’s when I act the least like Christ.
I thank God that is not how He works or how Jesus acted. Could you imagine? Romans 5:8 says that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us, and sinners aren’t exactly the nicest kids on the block. Still, God kindly and mercifully sent Jesus, and Jesus still died for us. Later, in Romans 12:20, it says that if your enemy is hungry or thirsty, give him (or her) food or drink. In doing so, you’ll heap burning coals on his or her head.
Now, the burning coals part aside, the point I want to focus on here is the call to action, not the outcome. The way in which God calls us to extend kindness and forgiveness baffles the world. It baffles the world, and confounds our enemy the devil, and it gives God room to do what He does best, being good, gracious, merciful, glorious, and as Romans 8:28 says, to work all things for the good of those who love Him.
Finally, there’s another reason for us to be kind, despite the other person. Now, I know it feels like a tall order sometimes to be nice to some of the people in our lives, but consider Proverbs 11:17, which says, “Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” That’s right, we think kindness is about the other person, but Proverbs is clear that it’s for our benefit that we should be kind.
Would you take a moment and thank the Lord with me? Thank Him for being so good to us, even when we’re not good to Him or each other. Thank Him for not waiting for us to be nice to Him before helping us. Thank Him for how He can and will empower us to be kind, even when we have every worldly reason not to be.
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