Being Kind to Unkind People?

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 30, 2015

When I think of unkind people, one of the last things in the world I want to do is to be kind to them. Be helpful. Be friendly.

Wait just a minute . . . what would Jesus do? (Here are my thoughts from a year ago.)

BK be kind to unkind people 

 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.)

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

Blessed Are Those Who Keep Their Mouths Shut

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, February 12, 2014

fruit of the Spirit

fruit of the Spirit

Blessed Are Those Who Keep Their Mouths Shut

Recently, I had another experience that showed me how blessed it is to keep my mouth shut.

It happened this way. I was in conversation with someone. I talk to a number of similar people, at least several times a week. I try to be courteous and kind. Naturally! Of course! It’s simply the way that I customarily operate.

But not this time. I don’t know quite what was the matter, but I must have felt out of sorts. Maybe I was tired or hungry. Or something. But for whatever reason, I had a short fuse. And I almost exploded in my acquaintance’s face while we were talking.

This situation reminds me of the fruit of the Spirit, from Galatians 5. I get the sneaking suspicion that I have a certain amount of most of these qualities—I have love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness. I’m pretty patient, gentle, and faithful. But the one where I consistently fall down is self-control. I do not have the best self-control in the world, especially when things can be really exciting, or fun, or good-tasting, or an awesome experience. No, my self-control does not rate very highly.   I’ve known about this difficulty with self-control for years. Decades, in fact. I have prayed about it off and on ever since. I’m still waiting.

I know that God is pleased with me when I’m involved with others. Or doing things for others. Could be showing kindness or love. Any way out of myself, and towards someone else.   We’ve already talked about how pleased God is because of acts of service. When a believer in God does something loving or honest, or exhibits attitudes that are kind or gentle, those kinds of actions can also be thought of as acts of service . . . for people in recovery, too.  One of the foundation principles of recovery is doing things for others—in other words, getting the focus away from “myself” and performing some act of service

But back to the story. As I mentioned, I had a conversation. I was somehow out of sorts. The other person made a comment that struck me as really silly. I was about to fire back with a sarcastic statement or cynical comment, when . . . I didn’t. Instead, I finished up the exchange with two or three more sentences and excused myself. So, I wouldn’t be further tempted to make any more snarky comments.

All I can say is, I am grateful to God for helping me to shut my mouth and keep it shut, instead of “flaming” others. To change up an old children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can stay in my head and heart forever.” I am grateful and thankful that God helped me to stop before I said anything unwise or unkind. Words can hurt in a powerful way, and words can stay in the heart and mind for years. Thank God that I didn’t add to those mean, nasty words. Thank God that I was able to keep them to myself.

So, yes. My act of service in that particular situation was keeping my mouth closed.

@chaplaineliza

What if People are Unkind to Me? What Then?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, February 9, 2014

LOVE God loves everyone

What if People are Unkind to Me? What Then?

Ah, this is a big question in my mind right about now.

I do have the spiritual gifts of helps and encouragement (among others). But what if I can’t find a way to be helpful? What if someone won’t allow me to be encouraging? What if someone shuts me down before I even open my mouth? What then?

I know the scripted answer. Yeah, yeah. I need to be kind to them. That’s what I’m “supposed to” do.

I get the sneaking feeling—well, all right, God. I know what You’re going to say already. You want me to be kind to them. Period. It’s not only the loving thing for me to do, it’s the kind thing. And the merciful thing. And the morally right thing. On top of everything else, what would Jesus do? (Yes, we’re back to that again.) How would God treat an unkind person?

I know what the Bible says. I Corinthians 13 tells me to love, and gives specific parameters for that loving. Verse four tells me that love is patient and kind. Okay, I ought to be patient and kind. Not some of the time, not part of the time. Not even most of the time. There are no time frame stipulations on love. So I figure God wants me to love all the time.

But what about . . . so-and-so? What’s-his-face isn’t kind, at all! So-and-so wouldn’t be patient if you paid her! Um, I have the feeling that my protests and excuses just won’t go too far. God is going to be like a kind, patient but strict teacher—or coach, or manager. It doesn’t matter how What’s-his-face or So-and-so might act. (As Aslan would say, that’s part of their story. I am not to concern myself with them or their situations. I have quite enough to handle with my story and living my life to the best of my ability. Oh, yeah. And to the glory of God, too.)

Let me turn the tables, as much as I’m hesitant, and tell tales on myself. Yes, I know I’m unkind some of the time. I’m one of those mean, unkind people. I must make some people really angry and upset sometimes. Even though I honestly try not to be unkind, I fly off the handle, I get upset. I lose my patience and get irritated. Yes, guilty as charged. What about you? Are you unkind, once in a while? More often than that?

In the past few days, I have been irritated with people I know. I have lost my patience here at home. I have raised my voice in the car, and yelled at the other drivers. But God still loves me, forgives me. God still waits, arms outstretched. God wants to welcome me back home. Can I do any less? I need to look for ways to be loving, patient and kind, as much as possible. God, help me look for opportunities.

@chaplaineliza

Being Kind to Unkind People?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, January 28, 2014

BK be kind to unkind people

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.)

@chaplaineliza