Be Kind“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but be kindly to everyone.” – 2 Timothy 2:24
I was waiting for the city bus, and it was late. He was a young man, in his mid-twenties and of a slight build. He moved quickly, approaching the bus stop. He had an open, friendly manner and an easy grin that made me like him instantly. He sat down on the bench next to me and shook my hand as he introduced himself. We talked at some length as we waited together in the encroaching twilight for a bus that was already several minutes late. As we exchanged pleasantries and small talk, we became fast friends.
He said that he was a bit of an activist and that he had just come from a demonstration downtown that was “anything but peaceful.” Several of the demonstrators had been injured when they tried to push their way through a line of police officers in riot gear and had been met by a maelstrom of baton strikes. The demonstrators responded in kind; throwing bricks and garbage at the police, destroying parked cars and vandalizing storefronts. Some of them had even physically attacked the line of police officers and fought with the cops attempting to arrest them.
The young man pulled up his shirt, revealing several small, very dark bruises on his abdomen and lower back that he had received as he was leaving – the unfortunate result of getting caught in a barrage of rubber bullets as he fled the scene.
“Battle scars,” he said, looking somewhat chagrinned. “I split when it started getting too crazy. I hate it when these things turn violent. I believe that things need to change, but I don’t think that hurting people or trashing stuff is the way to get it done. That doesn’t accomplish anything positive for anyone.”
Just then, the bus pulled up to the curb and came to a stop in front of us. As we stood up, the door opened and a long line riders began to exit. The last of the passengers exiting the bus was a woman near retirement age who was wearing a police uniform and wrestling with several bags of groceries. I moved forward to help her with her unmanageable load, but my new young friend got there before I did. He took all of the grocery bags from the surprised, but the very grateful officer and asked her where she lived.
He motioned for me to get on the bus as he stepped to one side.
“Aren’t you getting on?” I asked as I made my way up the steps and onto the bus, handing my transfer to the driver.
“Nah,” he said, “I’m going to help this young lady with her groceries. She has a couple of blocks left to go, and they look a little heavy. Don’t worry. I’ll catch the next one.”
“Do you want me to come along and help you?” I asked. It was the right thing to do, and I was willing, even though I wanted to get home. It was also another hour until the next bus and the driver had already punched my transfer.
“Nope. I got this,” he said. “I’m good.” His grin broke into a broad smile as he gave me a playful ribbing, “Besides, these are pretty heavy. I’d probably end up having to carry you back here.” He winked at me to make sure that I knew he was kidding, then turned and began to walk away. “See ya around, old man. Nice meeting you.”
“You, too,” I replied, calling after him.
As he disappeared into the darkness with the woman and her groceries, I made my way to an open seat near the back of the bus and sat down, reflecting on what I witnessed, impressed by the character of the new friend that God had just brought into my life.
I thought about how he had just left a situation where violence erupted between his group and the police, and yet here he was, not just avoiding the situation and resisting the urge to lash out, but missing his bus and inconveniencing himself to help someone that he could have easily seen as his enemy because he witnessed her struggling with her groceries and thought she could use some help. It was a beautiful thing that I witnessed. It helped to restore my faith in my fellow human beings and reminded me of the importance of being kind to others.
As each of us attempts to understand the world better and to overcome many challenges that confront us today, it is easy to become callous and indifferent to the suffering of those around us – especially the suffering of those who stand in direct opposition to our values and what we believe in. In such trying times, it is helpful to remember the words of the apostle, Paul.
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but be kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness.”2 Timothy 2:24-25
Lord, help me to be kind to all who I come into contact with and to be gentle and considerate, even to those who oppose me or would stand as my enemy. Help me to be less quarrelsome with other people and to avoid being cruel or harsh when I am compelled to correct them. Guide me in my behavior so that I can be a better servant and share in your goodness with everyone around me. Amen.