Dr. Stanley Spence, Pastor First Baptist Church, Lincolnton, N.C.
Michael Hodgin tells the story of a sheep-raising farmer. His neighbor farmer raised wheat, children, and big dogs. The neighbor’s dogs harassed his sheep throughout the day and night to the point it was affecting the health of the sheep. The sheep farmer didn’t know what to do. He thought about all the options to neutralize the dogs from being nasty to them, shooting them, to fussing with his neighbor or taking him to court. Instead, he prayed about what to do. Soon after his prayer, his sheep had new lambs. He knew what to do after that. He took two of his little lambs over and gave one to each of the neighbor's children as pets. No longer could that farmer just let his dogs run loose and terrorize the pets. The farmer pinned up the dogs, the children loved the neighbor farmer, and the two men became good friends. Kindness won out on this occasion.
Wouldn’t it be nice if kindness could win out in most disagreements? Sometimes when we take matters into our own hands we get a result that shows we didn’t try kindness first. The kindness idea doesn’t work every time. I once asked a wise older lady of some distinction when was kindness a good strategy to try. The wise woman replied, “Kindness is always a good strategy first.” I have to agree. Having been fussed at by experts, I have learned on occasion individuals want you to see them in the best light possible. Being kind expresses to others they are persons of value. Rudeness only diminishes someone’s self-worth and most of us don’t like that one bit. When you treat a rude person kindly, they are more apt to agree with you. Kindness is the right course of behavior, but don’t mistake flattery for kindness.
As a minister, I recall one particular moment many years ago. Following the death of a parishioner’s wife, I had a brief hostile conversation with him. He was upset for what I thought was a small and petty issue and yet he was unloading on me his frustration. In the middle of his temper tantrum, my spirit was tempted to argue back when suddenly his recent loss flashed to my mind. When he had finished his verbal tongue lashing, I kindly said, “We both miss your wife, don’t we!” With those words, his eyes filled with tears and he said, “If she’d been here, she’d have handled all of this.” I told him, “let’s work together and see if we can figure out what she would have done.” We were good friends before this--but better friends after. Sometimes, the Spirit of God is ready and able if we will but listen to His utterances in the midst of drama. (Proverbs 15:1)
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