A grieving father’s desire to honor his late son has quickly inspired thousands around the globe. Seventeen-year-old Dylan Vassallo was on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout and volunteered for several organizations when he took his life.
So his father, Daniel, launched a Facebook page entitled, “The Kindness Challenge” on Jan. 31 as a way to honor Dylan and to encourage people to do good deeds without any expectation of return.
He thought a Facebook page focusing on the positive might offset all the anger he had seen online. He also thought maybe a few friends and family members would like it (http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2017/02/18).
Immediately, the page took off, and, as of last week, had 58,955 members. People are hungry for kindness, but too often, kindness is in short supply.
We’re kind to someone, and they take advantage of us. So we’re suspicious of everyone’s intentions from then on.
Or we find ourselves in a cut-throat atmosphere at work where people do not pitch in to help one another, but instead back-stab and gossip. Or you’re just driving along and someone does something ridiculous in traffic that puts you in danger.
Kindness may be hard to define (the quality of being considerate?), but we definitely recognize unkindness, don’t we?
In mid-February, news services reported about an obituary for a man printed on a south Texas funeral home website. He died Jan. 30. A family member who wrote the obit pulled no punches.
The copy shared that the man lived “ … 29 years longer than expected and much longer than he deserved.
“At a young age, Leslie quickly became a model example of bad parenting combined with mental illness and a complete commitment to drinking, drugs, womanizing, and being generally offensive.”
His hobbies “included being abusive to his family … and fishing … Leslie’s life served no other obvious purpose; he did not contribute to society or serve his community and he possessed no redeeming qualities.
“With Leslie’s passing, he will be missed only for what he never did: being a loving husband, father and good friend.”
The funeral home eventually pulled the obituary (http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2017/02/10/Relieved-family-publishes-honest-obituary-for-evil-Texas-man/2681486756301/).
Glen Campbell used to sing, “Try a Little Kindness.” We can start by following the model of kindness. The Bible describes God as kind (see Nehemiah 9:17; Isaiah 54:8, 10; Luke 6:35; Romans 2:4; Ephesians 2:7, and Titus 3:4-7).
The ultimate act of kindness is Jesus’ going to the cross to die and pay the penalty for our sin.
The Model of kindness calls us to practice kindness. Ephesians 4:32 reads, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”
How do we practice kindness? The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.”
Like a garment that we wrap around our body, we are urgently commanded to put on kindness as we live each day.
Take every opportunity to be kind, but also intentionally use kind words. A Japanese proverb says, “One kind word can warm three winter months.”
Never underestimate the power of a kind word. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Lady Astor, the first woman to take a seat in the Parliament, couldn’t stand each other. There was no mutual respect, only constant sarcasm.
One time, Lady Astor said, “Winston, you are drunk.”
Churchill replied, “And, you, Madam, are ugly, but I shall be sober in the morning.”
Another time Winston Churchill and Lady Astor engaged in verbal sparring in which she told him, “If I were your wife, I’d put poison in your tea.” He responded, “If I were your husband, I’d drink it!”
Are you careful with your words? With your tone?
Also, look for ways to initiate kindness because kindness can be contagious. The owner of a drive-through coffee business in Portland was surprised one morning when a customer paid for the customer behind her. When the second customer found out her purchased was already paid for, she, too paid for the person behind her. The kindness chain continued for two hours and 27 customers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville, GA. The church gathers at 352 McDonough Road and invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them online at www.mcdonoughroad.org.