Why not be kind, after all, it doesn't cost anything!
For a few years, I have tried to say or do something each day for someone with no possibility of benefit to me. That usually happens in restaurants, motels, airports, and other places of business. Famous Baptist John Bunyan said, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” That is the essence that I have tried to practice but without the eloquence of Bunyan.
Most of what we do each day is predetermined to benefit ourselves in some way. I will sell some books, appear on a talk show, book a speaking engagement, or make an investment decision. Of course, each contact I make will be reciprocal since the people with whom I interact will get something they want from me.
Mutual reciprocity is a way of life and it is not evil or even selfish. Even among family members there is normally a reciprocal understanding: children obey parents and experience more freedom or money; they do well in school and good things follow; a man is especially kind and romantic to his wife and there is often a quo that follows the quid. It is even biblical to live that way, but John Bunyan suggested that there is normal everyday living and then there is superior living. Moreover, the inference is that those who try to live a superior or abundant life will not be losers but winners by not seeking any personal advantage.
What a change there would be in America if more of us practiced that living maxim every day, not just during this time of year.
Recently, I put this into practice in my doctor’s office waiting at the lab for a test. A crowd was already ahead of me. One was a young man maybe twenty years old who was mentally and physically handicapped, accompanied by a social worker. Those waiting for lab work had not recognized Christopher’s presence - maybe because it was awkward to do so. He was so pathetic and observers no doubt experienced some undeserved guilt for being healthy. And there was hopelessness knowing we were helpless. He was simply not there. It was so much easier that way.
As I sat beside him, he said, “My name’s Christopher Edwards and I can spell my name. C-h-r-i-s-t-o-p-h-e-r.”
“Wow,” I exclaimed. “I’m not sure I could spell that correctly, Christopher. That’s much more difficult than John, Bill, or Don. My name is Don Boys - D-o-n. But that’s much easier to spell than Christopher. You are to be commended for your accomplishment.”
By now, people sitting around us had accepted both Christopher and me. Some of the awkwardness was gone. Some were even smiling.
Again he said, “My name is Christopher Edwards and I can spell it. C-h-r-i-s-t-o-p-h-e-r.”
“That is sure a worthy accomplishment, Christopher. I sure like that checkered shirt you are wearing. Is green your favorite color?”
“Yes, I like green. My name is Christopher. C-h-r-i-s-t-o-p-h-e-r.”
There was silence then I heard my name, “Don Boys.”
I walked into the lab for them to take my blood, or some of it, and I thought of my strong, bright, handsome, articulate son saying, “My name is Michael Boys and I can spell my name. M-i-c-h-a-e-l. I started to cry as I signed my name. As the lady took my blood, she looked at me for the first time and seeing my watery eyes, asked if she had hurt me.
“No, you did a very good job. Thanks for your concern.”
Walking out of the office, I realized that I had taken life, health, family, friends, and the goodness of God for granted. Through no talent, knowledge, or sacrifice of mine, I have an incredible family all healthy (as far as we know), bright, talented, educated, and almost all in the service of others.
Jesus said, “I am come that ye might have life, and you might have it more abundantly.” Everyone wants a life, a good life, but we often miss out on the abundant life - reaching out to others.
Christ spoke about this in His parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritans were a despised group of half-breeds who hated the Jews and were hated by them. It has been asserted that Samaritans had desecrated the Jewish Temple during Passover with human bones.
But this Samaritan did not respond to Jewish hatred and did not fit the vile stereotype. While traveling the seventeen-mile road from Jerusalem to Jericho he saw a wounded Jew beside the road. The Samaritan bandaged his wounds, put him on his beast, and took him to an inn where he could receive additional help. The innkeeper was shocked to find a Samaritan helping a hated Jew and going further than humanity would require. He paid his motel and food bill and promised to pay more if necessary. No, something very unusual was going on. The innkeeper observed an unlikely person exhibiting principle and acting nobly even at a personal cost.
Two religious leaders, a Priest and Levite, had passed by the injured man; after all, they were too busy on an important mission to take time to do good. They were probably en route to do lectures at “The Jericho Symposium on Personal and Corporate Relief” and “Personal Kindness, a Major Religious Commitment.” They passed by on the other side fearing that they might be attacked or might be contaminated by a corpse. Christ’s Jewish listeners were to identify with the wounded man realizing the help received from a hated Samaritan is grace from an unexpected source. It also shows the folly, foolishness, and falsity of hating anyone, especially group hate.
The Priest and Levite who were supposed to be servants of others, basically asked, “How will this affect me if I try to help?” Will the reciprocity be good or bad? They were badly flawed individuals.
Actually, the Samaritan is not to be commended for helping the wounded man; after all, humanity requires that of everyone; however, the Samaritan went beyond taking the man to safety and succor but to surviving. He went much further than living. He paid for the lodging and care and promised the innkeeper to repay him if the man’s care was more costly. None of that was expected.
But Christ said, “Go and do likewise.” We are to lift up the fallen, encourage the depressed, bind the wounds, strengthen the weak, and do so without realizing personal benefit.
Wimpy modern “snowflakes” should stop whining and make a contribution like get a job, visit a sick person, take dinner to a widow down the street, cut a neighbor’s grass, tutor a struggling student, visit the city mission and hug a drunk or druggie and say, “I love you and Christ loves you.”
It doesn’t cost you to be kind. It pays here and in eternity. But we are all so busy about good, important, and necessary things we don’t go the second mile and often not even the first mile. It reminds me of a real-life psychology experiment reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, when seminary students in a rush to teach on this very parable, failed to stop to help a man slumped over in an alley between two buildings! Some of the seminarians even stepped over the man in a rush to speak on the subject—the Good Samaritan!
I drove away from the medical office and as I turned left (something I seldom do) I thought of my healthy, bright son, daughters, wife, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Fighting tears, I said, “My name is Don Boys - D-o-n B-o-y-s and I’m very thankful I can spell my name.”
I want to be thankful every day of the year.