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200 East Parkway North, Memphis, TN 38112 ⋅ Office: 901.454.1131

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Reflections on Being Kind

Be ye kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven you.I don’t know about you, but I tend to carry around a prevailing sense of grief with me these days.  There are so many issues and problems in our world today, or at least we are all the more aware of them, and that certainly plays a part.  But what troubles me more, I think, is the sheer lack of kindness or gentleness that I see expressed in so many ways.   Indeed, some of those closest to me say I’ve started to wince involuntarily when I think such has happened.   I’ll have to work on my poker face.

Social communication has facilitated this.  It’s so easy to be judgmental and snarky when you’re not communicating face to face.  And I think such tendencies have spilled over into our verbal interactions as well.  We practice online and soon enough we bring that verbage and attitude to the game, so to speak.  It’s hard not to. 

I think the key is remembering exactly whom one is addressing, regardless of the medium.  If one views the person being addressed as a fellow child of God…imperfect albeit, possibly even considerably, but nonetheless a child of God…it would seem that kindness is the only proper standard.   If however, you view the person as something less, a demagogue, a mere conglomeration of ideas with whom you disagree…then it probably is not that hard to fall short of kindness.

Several years ago I read an article that theorized that our Congress, contentious as it may be, would be considerably even more so were our representatives not required to address one another with terms of respect…”the honorable”….”my esteemed colleague”….etc.   The social scientist writing the article believed that those words of introduction, voiced no matter how mindlessly, had an effect on what comes after; for in saying those words one is reminded of the humanity and dignity of the one you are addressing, no matter the level of differences.

And part of being a child of God, and not God, is that none of us are perfect, that all of us are in process.  You’ve no doubt heard the old sermon illustration about a guy that is in line to get coffee.  He’s in a hurry and is frustrated that the line is not moving quicker.  He’s all prepared to file an official complaint with the manager, but when he gets up to the front he sees that the person working the register and taking orders is wearing this button that says, “Please be patient, I’m in training.” 

Now, I’m not suggesting that we be less than honest with another.  It’s more than OK to challenge one another with ideas and suggestions, even file a complaint.  But we can, if we try, do it with kindness and gentleness.  We will do this so long as we remember the one we are addressing is, like us, a child of God in training.

The big picture truth of the matter is that we are all children of God in training.  None of us have it down.  We’ve all been wrong before and we will all be wrong again.  We’ve all been shown grace upon grace.  Thus we are to forgive as Christ has forgiven us, and treat one another with the tender heart Christ gave us.  And when we do…the result may be a kindness that might just change everything.  A Lenten vow…Maybe?

Grace, David


This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge and originally published in the February edition of Together.

Posted by Bridget Ellis at 8:00 AM
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