Pine City Evangelical Free Church Pastor Joel Preston

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (ESV) 

What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? What is the kindest thing you have ever done for someone? We can probably answer those questions quickly as kindness has a way of making an impact in our lives. Acts of kindness are not often forgotten. 

For me, I think back to my days as a seminary student in Jacksonville, Florida. I tried not to take out student loans, so I occasionally had to sit out a semester to make enough money for the next term. That’s one of the ways I managed to earn a four-year Theology degree in seven years! Anyway, throughout college, I worked at an exclusive country club in downtown Jacksonville. One semester, while I was not enrolled in classes, a neurosurgeon I often played squash with asked me how my classes were going. I confessed that I took the semester off for financial reasons but planned on enrolling again the next term. He proceeded to ask me for the phone number to the college which I passed on to him. I was touched at the thought of this kind doctor putting a hundred dollars or something on my school bill. However, when I went to the next registration day, I was shocked to find out that he had given enough money toward my school bill to pay for an entire semester and all my books with some leftover for the next semester. Not only was I incredibly grateful, but I did not need to sit out another semester again! What a generous act of kindness! 

Sadly, we live in a divided and unkind age. It seems that civil discourse is at an all time low. Even the idea of basic human decency toward others who don’t think like us is almost unheard of. It is exhausting and overwhelming. What can we do as a corrective measure? We can choose kindness…always! 

One of the main writers of the Bible’s New Testament is the Apostle Paul. It was he who wrote the above words to the Church in Ephesus. It is fascinating that Paul wrote these words, as his personal history was not always one of kindness. Paul was raised as an extremely religious Jew, and as such, he rejected Jesus. He was so zealous in his defense of his religion and was so angry at those he disagreed with that he went through different cities arresting and punishing those who were followers of Jesus. This was the opposite of kindness! 

Fast forward about 30 years in Paul’s life, and he writes a personal letter to a group of Jesus’ followers in the ancient city of Ephesus. In this letter, he passionately encourages them to “be kind to one another!” What happened to Paul? What made the difference? Simply this – he also became a follower of Jesus! He did not want those he now influenced to follow his pattern of unkindness but rather to follow the pattern of Jesus himself who displayed God’s kindness and love to all people, even his enemies. The ultimate way in which Jesus displayed God’s kindness and love was to die on the cross for the sins of humanity! 

Now, back to us in 2022. Although social media, blogs, our favorite cable news stations, and culture at large may foster unkindness and vitriol toward those with whom we disagree – we always have a choice! Every day, in every interaction, in every relationship, we can choose unkindness or kindness. We can choose to treat people with dignity or disdain. It is still our choice to make. 

I personally want to make the choice to be kind because of my faith in Jesus and my desire to represent him well in our community. But even if you are not a person of faith, you still can choose to treat all people with kindness, respect, and dignity. Why? Because that is how you wish to be treated.

The bottom line and my prayer for us here in Pine City is this: in a world gone mad…may we choose kindness, always! 

Joel preston is the senior pastor of Pine City Evangelical Free Church.

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