Be kind: Proper 14, Year B

8 08 2015

Ephesians 4:25 to 5:2

Kindness Card 1

Kindness Card 2

I suspect we’ve all, at some point or another, lamented a breakdown in basic civility and courtesy. You know what I’m talking about: acting as if others don’t matter. The impatient and aggressive driver. People talking loudly in a restaurant as if they are the only ones there. Taking a mobile phone call in the middle of a movie or a concert. People dropping litter. Not holding a door open for others. Common courtesy. I’ll bet that self-centeredness has spoiled more friendships and destroyed more careers than we know. And, at the same time, probably, more than anything else, the one thing that has endeared people to others is thoughtfulness and simple kindness. We admire people who are smart and competent, but we love those who are kind!

Our reading from Ephesians this morning reminded us to imitate God – and the best example we have at God at work in our world, is God-in-the-flesh: the Jesus of history / the Christ of faith.

Kindness was so important to Jesus, in fact, that he made it the essential mark of authentic discipleship. He said, “This is how people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Not if you believe all the right things. Not if you pray a lot. Not if you pay your dues to the Church. Not if you worship in the right way. Those are all good things, but they are not the most important thing. According to Jesus, the way we show that we belong to Him is that we love one another, and that we act out our love by being kind to one another.

As our text from Ephesians puts it:

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

Clearly, if we do not act with kindness toward others, it is evidence that we have not received God’s kindness toward us.

I want to share with you a true story, I came across recently. It was written by the person who had the experience. He wrote: “Twenty years ago, I drove a taxi for a living. It was a life of freedom, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my taxi became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and weep. But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.

When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, and then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transport. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. “The passenger might be someone who needs my assistance,” I responded to myself. So, I walked to the door and knocked. “Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie. By her side was a small suitcase. The flat looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks on the mantelpiece. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Will you carry my bag out to the car?” she asked. I took the suitcase to the taxi, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. “It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.” “O, you’re such a good boy,” she said. When we got to the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive through the city centre?” “It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly. “Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.” I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. “I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked. For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as a receptionist. We drove through the area where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slowdown in front of a particular building or corner and she would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. As the first hint of sun was peering over the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.” We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small care home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two carers came out to the taxi as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the boot and took the small suitcase to the door.

The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. “How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse. “Nothing,” I said. “You have to make a living,” she answered. “There are other passengers,” I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent over and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. “You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you”.

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had got an angry driver, or one who was impatient at the end of his shift? What if I had refused to take the job, or had honked once, then driven impatiently away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have ever done anything more important in my life.”

Is that what it’s about? At the end of the day, is it about kindness – first God’s and then ours?

Listen: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

Or, as another poster I saw the other day put it:


Father, help us to love as we have been loved by You.
Help us to reflect Your kindness to us simply by being kind.
In Jesus’ kind name we pray. Amen.

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3 responses

8 08 2015

lovely post x

8 08 2015
Jean Marie Meny(Mr)

As always,so true,kind and profound.

9 08 2015
marilyn summers

Thank you for this, Jonathan. There have been occasions when I have wondered if in all the “business” of Church, this most basic of Christian principles has been over-looked. You have restored my faith! God bless, hope all is well with you. Marilyn (Summers)

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