Going Deeper with the Message:
by: Andrew Archer
This Sunday, Pastor Tim continued our series, Relationship Goals, where we are looking at different qualities or characteristics that will greatly improve our relationships if we truly live them out. Tim shared that one of our goals should be to always be kind. We can think of kindness as treating others as kin or family. For most of us, this can be very difficult. We often struggle with kindness. We don’t view others this way and then we treat them accordingly.
One of the reasons we struggle with being kind toward others is because we label them. It’s human nature to categorize things; it helps us better understand the world in which we live. And most of the time, it’s beneficial for us and doesn’t hurt anyone else. However, when it comes to labeling people, it can often lead us to see them as less human. When we label someone as “homeless,” “conservative,” “liberal,” or worst of all, a “Pitt fan,” we are unable to see them for who they actually are and begin to see them as an “it.” We strip them of their humanity.
So, how should we label or view people? Well, I think we can find the answer to that question in the beginning. When God created the first humans, he said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” All people (yes, even Pitt fans) are made in the image of God. This means that all people are in this sense the same. We have something—the most important thing—in common. And that thing, the fact that God chose to make us in His image, shows the immense worth each person has in spite of any other category we might want to put them in.
I understand the hesitation to show kindness toward someone in which you have labeled as something different than yourself is part of our nature. However, when we realize that all people are, first and foremost, image bearers of our Heavenly Father, that should radically change the way in which we see them and treat them. It should create in us a heart that looks to treat everyone with kindness.
If we say we love God yet we don’t show kindness to those who bear his image, we are hypocrites. One of the best ways to show our love for God is by showing kindness to the people He created. I encourage you to actively look at everyone you encounter, not as whatever label you might normally give them, but as the imago dei—the image of God.
Living out the Message:
Dude. Just be Kind.
By Michelle Lemley, Nursery Coordinator
I am blessed to have two boys, ages 10 and 6. And they are “all boy,” as my mother says. They wrestle and throw and play rough, but they can also be cuddly and gentle and loving. They live life to the fullest, and everything is big and wild, including their emotions. One of the most challenging things that I have encountered as a parent is teaching them how to interact with others. I often find myself trying to stop an argument by saying, “Dude. Just… be kind.” Part of our nightly prayers is always, “Help us to be kind and patient to everyone we meet, to forgive others and ourselves when we make mistakes, and to treat others the way we want to be treated.” Oftentimes, while saying these words, I find myself thinking that these concepts are not isolated to 10 and 6 year old boys. I think about ways that I’ve not treated others with kindness and patience throughout my own day.
Kindness can have many aspects, and can mean different things to different people. Pastor Tim suggested four words that can help us to remember ways to express kindness in our day-to-day lives. It helps that they all start with the same letter!
Throughout the day on Sunday, after hearing these words, the boys and I had many opportunities to discuss them. When I heard them speaking to each other harshly, I said, “Remember that Pastor Tim said we should treat each other with gentleness! That doesn’t just mean don’t punch each other, but to use kind words and voices. That’s part of being kind!”
A more complicated aspect came about when we saw someone asking for money. I gave them a dollar or two and the boys asked why I didn’t give more. It would have been more generous to give them all of the money in my wallet! I thought a lot about that and remembered that another thing Pastor Tim mentioned was to give with wisdom and discernment. It’s not always best to give everything you have at once, when those resources may be better spent in other ways.
Kindness is being present and observant and being willing to help those in need. Sometimes that means money, sometimes a smile or compliment, and sometimes that means a larger investment of our time. I think that the bottom line is that kindness is caring; thinking of others and their needs, and doing our best to help when we can. So, join me this week in making it a goal to always be kind.