It may sound very profound, simplistic, juvenile… OR it could be the greatest advice I ever received! But I can remember being maybe 7, 8 years old, going through a fast-food drive thru with my father, and he expressed to me, “Don’t ever give people a reason to NOT like you…” — This after we had received our food, and the cashier showed appreciation for the smiles and kindness we had shown after they had messed up our order, TWICE… Hey, I was having an evening out with my dad, so it didn’t register with me that there may be a problem. However I have remembered that little ‘saying’ all of my life, and it’s a constant reminder that people are watching you and maybe NEED that extra effort (from you) of compassion in their lives.
Well, it’s not the physical, outward ‘viewing’ that I consider with this thought. However it’s the ACT of purposefully being DIFFERENT – different than the world – different than the ‘average’ person that comes and goes and doesn’t consider what someone else may be going through – different because that’s precisely what we’re supposed to be as believers in Jesus…
Think about a “worldly” example of kindness. I was at a gas station a few weeks back and the employee behind the counter was a nice elderly gentleman. I have seen him often, and witnessed his joyous spirit with customers in the past. Now I don’t know if he’s a Christian (the employee), but on this one occasion, a mid-40s man was buying his merchandise and heading out and the elderly man stopped him and said, “So, you’re almost done with school huh? That’s fantastic! Well, I’ll tell you what I’ll do.. You finish school, show me that degree, and the next (let’s call it 7-Up) six pack is on me…” — Now regardless of the ‘prize’ offered, that showed me some real compassion from the employee, having the heart to reach out to someone else, and desire to see them succeed. — On the personal side, just last night I was buying an item and the cashier was having an issue with my debit card. He had to make the extra effort to type in my cards information and I could see that he was sorry for taking so long. I just stood there, patiently, letting him finish his process – I wasn’t in a hurry, but before leaving I shook his hand and handed him a couple dollars, simply thanking him for making the (extra) effort. He responded, “well thank you man.. keep that positive attitude..” I left, not pridefully thinking, “well I was the ‘good’ person in that circumstance..” No, just thankful for the opportunity to be different, to react different, to make his couple minutes a little less stressful.
Maybe it’s opening a door, picking up something someone has dropped, sharing a smile, actually saying “HELLO” to that person in the awkward elevator silence… There are so many easy, not-by-accident moments that we are faced with to show kindness — shall I even use the word LOVE. You don’t have include money, just consider the other person. It’s fulfilling, it’s satisfying, it’s “esteeming others rather than ourselves…” (Phil. 2:3). Just don’t waste the opportunities. You can’t control what others feel towards you or think about you, but you CAN determine how you’ll change the environment with your attitude or action/re-action.