Kevin: Scott, this morning I have a question about dinner, or rather what to do in the following scenario involving this meal.
Okay, you’re at a nice restaurant with a friend. Maybe you’ve both brought your spouses. Everyone’s had a glass of wine, and all of the sudden someone brings up one of the big three subjects of great interest and peril; politics, sex and religion. Your friend’s husband says something that you totally disagree with, to the point, perhaps, of wanting to jump on the table and sing your dissent at the top of your lungs. This guy is so wrong, you can’t possibly let it go. You have to say something. And anyway, if you don’t, the dinner could get tense and dull. You know, back to talking about the weather or the ballgame. What to do, Scott, what to do! Small talk is so incredibly boring and pointless, but you don’t want to ruin a friendship by throwing your entree at the offending party. I don’t know, does the Bible have anything to say about such things, because I sincerely love candid conversation, but sometimes you leave feeling like “I’ve made my point, but maybe overly so.” And for me, in this scenario, I might also be thinking, “Who is this woman pretending to be my wife?” Your thoughts, Scott?
Scott: Well, Kevin, whether it’s a dining companion who has arrogantly dismissed my political views, or a co-worker who has questioned my intelligence in a board meeting, or a family member who has pointed out one of my flaws, as a Christ-follower I must be…kind.
I was surprised, recently, in a study of Paul’s letters to the churches in the New Testament, to see how often he told the folks to “be kind.” If it’s important enough to God for Him to prompt Paul to make kindness a recurring theme, then kindness must not be merely a peripheral issue of the Christian faith. Kindness is a Christian big deal.
I must note, however, that there is a difference between kindness and southern-ness. I once had a business consultant tell me that there is a big difference between the way difficult meetings happen in the south and in the north. He said, “I can go to a meeting in the south in which we deal with difficult, painful issues, and everyone is nice and polite. But when I get back home and into my office I’ve got a string of voice mails. People from that meeting saying, ‘You’ve got to do something about so-and-so…’ ’That lame brain idea that knucklehead had will never work…’”
“But,” he said, “if I go to a tough meeting in the north, folks will have it out right there. They will talk candidly. They’ll be blunt, even brutal. But they will get everything on the table. And then they will go have a drink together afterward.” Christian kindness isn’t verbal syrup. God inspired Paul to write in Ephesians 4, “Speak the truth in love.” So we’re supposed to speak truth; just not with venom.
Kindness is honest, but it is not hurtful. It’s candid but not caustic. It’s truthful but not toxic. Kindness isn’t phony and sappy; but it is civil, polite, and respectful.
So let’s all follow the advice of Glenn Campbell, and try a little kindness...