Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
A LITTLE KINDNESS AND COMPASSION
In 1969, country singer Glen Campbell released a hit single called Try a Little Kindness. The catchy chorus urged,
You’ve got to try a little kindness,
Yes show a little kindness,
Just shine your light for everyone to see.
And if you’ll try a little kindness,
then you’ll overlook the blindness
of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets.
The Apostle Paul might agree with Glen Campbell. Ephesians 4:32 reads, Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be kind . . . or, perhaps, try a little kindness.
A LITTLE KINDNESS CAN GO A LONG WAY
In fact, sometimes just a little kindness goes a long way. As I was reflecting on verse 32, I recalled a long-forgotten experience I had in New York City over thirty years ago. I was in grad school at the time, traveling back to Massachusetts after visiting my family in California.
Because I had little money, I used the cheapest way to get to Boston from Los Angeles. In those days, that meant flying to New York City and then taking the Greyhound bus from Port Authority to South Station in Boston.
On this occasion, my flight to New York had been delayed by bad weather, so I didn’t get to the city until late evening. I was exhausted and discouraged by the prospect of a five-hour, late-night bus ride to Boston — plus, I was missing my family and feeling quite depressed about my sorry life.
HUNGRY, TIRED AND NEEDING A LITTLE KINDNESS
Before catching the bus, I needed to get something to eat, so I stepped into a burger joint. This was New York, of course, so the restaurant was jammed and noisy. I waited for a long time until I was finally able to plop down in a small booth. I noticed that the only waitress in the place, a black woman of about sixty, was rushing around like crazy.
Given how hungry I was, I silently rebuked myself for picking this place. I figured I’d have to wait forever before being served. To my surprise, the waitress hurried over to my table. She stopped for a second to look closely at me. “Sugar,” she said, “You look pretty down. Can I help you feel better? What can I get for you?”
Now, I don’t usually like to be called Sugar, but in this case, that name tasted sweet. Somebody had noticed me. Somebody had seen me. Yes, somebody was being kind to me, even in a crowded burger joint in New York City.
A LITTLE KINDNESS FROM A WAITRESS
I ordered my dinner, feeling strangely better about life. Throughout the meal, my angelic waitress kept checking on me, saying things like, “You doing okay, honey?” She wanted to know why I was in the city and so I described my long day of travel. “Sounds awful,” she said.
When it was time for me to go, I asked for my check. “You have a safe trip, now, sugar — and know that things will get better. God bless.”
For some reason, when she told me things would get better, I believed her. Indeed, God had already blessed me through her, by her little kindness.
Gracious God, how I thank you for that waitress in New York, for the fact that she saw me and cared for me, for her kindness. Help me, Lord, to be like her. Help me, Lord, to be kind to those whom I serve as well as those who serve me. By the help of your Spirit, may I be kind today. Amen.
Try A Little Kindness first published by The High Calling on April 8, 2014. Theology of Work Project Online Materials by The High Calling are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Published with permission.
Questions For Reflection
1. When have you experienced exceptional kindness?
2. When have you been particularly kind to someone?
3. Are there ways you could be kind to the people in your life today?
Rev. Mark D. Roberts
Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a pastor, author, retreat leader, speaker, and blogger. Since October 2007, he has been the Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence for Laity Lodge, a multifaceted ministry in the Hill Country of Texas. For sixteen years prior to that, he was the Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church in Irvine, California. Mark served on the staff of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood as Associate Pastor of Education preceding his time in Irvine.
30 Creative Ways
Pause. Seek. Notice.
Be aware of the people around you. Observe the tender prompting of the Spirit. Be intentionally kind and discover what God will do.