Are some places just more friendly than others?
A few years back, American Demographics magazine commissioned a team of people to find the kindest city and state in the nation. The team conducted five experiments on passersby on the streets of thirty-six cities. Researchers dropped pens, feigned blindness, pretended to be lame, asked for change for a quarter, and acted as if they lost stamped envelopes. After two years they named the winners. The kindest city: Rochester, New York. The kindest state: Tennessee.
Believers in Christ should be like Rochesterians and the church like the state of Tennessee. Kindness ought to be one of our defining marks. And why? Because God is kind. Like the rain falling from the skies, his kindness is indiscriminate. It refreshes people irrespective of their relationship to him (Matthew 5:45, Acts 14:17). At the same time it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Is it any wonder that God expects kindness to top our “to do” list? Listen to Peter’s words:
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. (2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV)
Show kindness! Smile at a stranger, hold the door, pick up a piece of trash, cover for someone at work, assist the elderly, remember to say “please” and “thank you,” drop a bigger tip, or simply offer to help someone. It does not matter whether they are "random acts" or carefully planned and premeditated. God calls us to kindness.
You don’t have to live in Tennessee to be kind, but you do have to live in Christ. Kindness is a fruit that grows from being attached to the vine called Jesus. Remember, apart from him we can't do anything (John 15:5).
Late last night, a fresh breeze of kindness flew through my inbox. It was a heart-felt note and an encouraging word. Those wonderful words were proof positive that you don't have to live in Tennessee to be kind. The sender was from Florida!
And add to your faith . . . kindness!