Sermons

Summary: It is never not the time to treat people with kindness.

It doesn’t hurt to be nice to people

January 29, 2005

Cornwall/Montreal

In “The Edge of Adventure”, Bruce Larson writes: “Hurrying home after work, I entered New York’s Port Authority bus terminal, briefcase in one hand, newspaper in the other. The usual crowd was lined up behind the escalators that take suburban passengers to their buses. Just as I got to the head of the line, a hard-faced, middle-aged woman came up from my side, shoved in front of me, planted her elbow in my stomach, and stepped onto the escalator. Removing her elbow, I said with elaborate sarcasm, ‘Forgive me. I didn’t mean to shove you.’

“As she turned and looked me in the eye, her face seemed to fall apart. ‘I don’t understand,’ she said with apology and shock. ‘Why are you so nice to me? I was really rude- I shouldn’t have shoved in line like that.’

“I was at a loss for words. The woman had reacted to my counterfeit display of love as if it were real, and appeared transformed. I began to envision this woman as a person who’d been fighting all her life for a place in line. Humiliated by the pettiness of my first reaction and overwhelmed by the effect it had produced, I gathered my wits enough to mumble, ‘It doesn’t hurt to be nice to people.’ Then I ran headlong for my bus.”

How often have any of us been in situations much like this, where we’ve found ourselves in conflict with normal people around us? And how often have we reacted differently than Bruce Larson did, in this true story? This story really illustrates the raising of the bar on human action, as is appropriate for us as disciples of Jesus Christ.

2 Ti.2.24- says “The Lord’s servants…must be kind to everyone…and be patient with difficult people.” It’s not easy to be, yet that is the bar, or level of action, given as the norm, to us by our Saviour.

Another story tells of how we’d all like this area of human life to be. It is from “Going Public with Your Faith” by William Carr Peel.

“The first time I walked into the medical practice Walt Larimore operated in Kissimmee, Florida, I was taken by surprise- by a smiling face. The receptionist stood up, beamed at me over the counter, and said, ’Hi, how can I help you?’ I was impressed!

“I often feel more like a bother than a cared-for patient in medical offices. When greeted by a glass window and a clipboard to sign in on, you can only hope that someone realizes you’ve arrived and will in time call your name.

“Not so at Heritage Family Physicians. The staff greeted me by name and appeared delighted to see me and interested in helping me.

“And that’s not all. If the doctor was running late, and office worker would alert patients of the approximate time the doctor would see them and then ask, ‘Is that okay?’ This said they cared about their patients and realized their time is valuable.

“Ordinary? Yes. Powerful? Absolutely. These common courtesies told patients that something was different about their staff and doctors. They created a foundation of goodwill in which trusting relationships could develop. Over time this resulted in many spiritual conversations.”

Don’t we all wish this was our reality when we visit one of the medical clinics that are part of all of our lives?

Proverbs 16.24- tells us, simply, “Kind words are like honey- sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Kind words- so simple, yet so very rare, sadly.

British priest and hymn write, Frederick W. Faber, wrote “Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning.”

Galatians 6.10 gives a great challenge to us, today, in and from our Christian community, here in the WCG (Cornwall/Montreal). We are encouraged/told/commanded, if you will or want it to be at that level, to do good to all people, especially those of the household of faith. There is a certain focus here- two, really. One is to be good doers. Are you a good doer? Are you concerned that your life be one doing good? Then, are you focused on the household of faith as a primary object for your good doing? Are you thinking about how you can do good, especially to the household of faith.

We are family, bound together by something more profound and real than blood. A lot of people- a lot of societies- put a lot of stock in blood-lines, and a lot of people talk about being ‘family’ or ‘blood family’. This is important, without question. But blood is not everything. I grew up in a family not related to anyone by blood- because of adoption- and my family is as real and profound to me as those in a blood family. I met my blood family in 1987, and it has been an exciting experience and journey and I even got to perform my blood youngest sister’s marriage in 1997 and, for the first time in my life, that April day and night, to attend such an event with blood family. Oh, it was an exciting realization.

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