A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Being Kind to Unkind People?
When I think of unkind people, I think of sourpusses. People like Scrooge (before his reformation). Or people who do particularly nasty things. I see articles on the Internet under the Crime section of news sites I visit that astound, horrify, and sadden me.
In this blog post, I won’t concentrate on such extreme examples. Instead, I’ll mention a person in my acquaintance who was not kind with their tongue. I’ll also use a bit of C.S. Lewis’s excellent comments about the same fault from Book IV, Chapter 10 of Mere Christianity.
One person I’m thinking of qualified as a sourpuss. (I say “qualified” because she has passed on to her heavenly reward.) In our common ministry in the church, nothing was ever right. Nothing was ever good enough. She had to step in and readjust things, or redo arrangements, or rewrite the report. Moreover, her opinions of her fellow church members were often not charitable or kind. People didn’t exactly tiptoe around her. But sometimes, they did modify comments made in her hearing or just not ask her about things. Yet, she was accounted as a Christian, and a lifelong church member.
In Mere Christianity’s example of a nice, good-tempered atheist and a mean, nasty-mouthed Christian, C.S. Lewis asks the excellent question of what the mean Christian’s tongue would be like if she were not a Christian, and what the nice atheist’s tongue might be like if he were to become one. Both the atheist and the Christian, “as a result of natural causes and early upbringing, have certain temperaments: Christianity professes to put both temperaments under new management if they will allow it to do so. . . . You cannot expect God to look at [the atheist’s] placid temper and friendly disposition exactly as we do. Being merely temperamental, they will all disappear if [the atheist’s] digestion alters. . . . In the same way, God has allowed natural causes, working in a world spoiled by centuries of sin, to produce in [the Christian] the narrow mind and jangled nerves which account for most of her nastiness.”
My goodness. I have not read that particular passage for a number of years. Yet, it came back to me because of my prayer and meditation time this morning. I was not even concentrating on that specific topic today, yet God had this passage from Mere Christianity wash up on the shores of my mind. It all fits together. Really.
I needed to have my elbow jogged. God wanted to remind me about my attitude, and treating all people kindly. It doesn’t matter whether they are mean-spirited or nasty or unkind. I am to treat them in a kind and tenderhearted manner. And if I step back and wonder, “Do they really deserve kind treatment? After all, look what they’ve done/said/acted like!” all I need to do is to reflect on, “What would Jesus do?” How would He treat that horrible person? What would He say to the person who did that nasty action, or said that mean comment?
All I need to do is look in the mirror, and look at myself. God wants me to be kind to unkind people—they need it the most. (Unkind like me. Sometimes.)