1 Colossians 3:11 & 12 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Is it wrong to be kind, or is it too hard? This may sound like a stupid question, but I’ve come across this several times recently. I am not saying that I am perfect. I certainly have missed times when I could have been nicer. I’m trying to do better and I hope we can all look at ourselves on this issue.
One of my friends on facebook had posted a very negative picture of our president. I thought it was a little distasteful and commented that no matter our political views we as Christians should try to be nicer and treat one another with love and respect. Then friends of that person lambasted me for being of opposing political views and how this president was destroying America and how I was self-righteous for quoting Bible verses about treating people with love and kindness. I was taken aback at how much hate was seemingly thrown in my direction for simply asking if we could be nicer.
This episode also reminded me of a church that my family once attended. My family went through a very difficult time. Within one year, we lost 4 family members, had a live power line fall on our car, and my wife was diagnosed with an immune disorder. These seemed to be the highlights. Every board meeting the pastor or other leaders asked how my family was doing. I replied every time that we were hurting and having a hard time. Several times during the church services one of us would talk about the pain that we were going through. The response left us feeling empty. Over the entire time my wife received 2 cards, and the church gave us a little money to help pay for the funerals.
This caused us a lot more hurt because we felt that people only seemed to care in words, because very few seemed to reach out to us beyond the times we saw them at church. So, not too long after this we decided to leave the church and so I resigned from my position. I told the pastor and church board it was because we needed to heal from everything that we went through. Although I don’t think the church meant to hurt us, we felt let down, unwanted, and unloved. Later after we had left the church we tried to address these issues with leaders of the church but we felt like they simply blasted us by saying we were selfish, and liars among other things. Again I was left asking, why is it hard to be nice? (Some time later a few have tried to make things better).
As I write this I am home from work because of a car accident that has strained the lumbar muscle in my lower back. My wife has an upper respiratory infection, plus some injuries from the accident. A coworker of mine called to ask if they could do anything. I told them that I didn’t know what they could do. A few minutes later another call. “I’m buying you diner, I’ll have it there at 5:00.” Now that is nice. What was so hard about stopping by a restaurant and bringing us dinner? Kind people have now also brought us candy, bath salts, muscle ache pads, aspirin, another dinner on the way, raked our lawn etc. etc… What made these people act this way? Why did they reach out to us?
One person described those that I felt were not nice like this. “In a worldview that is often black and white (concrete, dualist) and highly values in-group loyalty – you’re either with them or you’re against them. Your request for niceness was likely perceived as a lack of loyalty.” It’s not that I wasn’t loyal. I REALLY thought people should simply be nice. That is all.
This reminds me of the words in Matthew, 5:46 “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” Christians are called to be different from the world. Jesus tells us that even those people that you really hate are nice to their friends. For the next couple chapters Jesus compares and contrasts how we should be. Then in chapter seven he brings his thoughts to a conclusion. 7: 12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” and 7:26 “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” (NIV) seem to sum up his thoughts. Do nice things to ALL people, not for rewards, but because you are following the will of God. God will see you and that is the only reward that you need.
So I ask you, is it wrong to be kind? Is it just too hard? Is Jesus asking too much from us? Or what is it that keeps us from doing what is right?