Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Little Kindness Goes A Long Way

In his book, Uncensored Grace, Pastor Jud Wilhite shares the story of a church member named Cody Huff. Before Cody became a member at Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, he was sleeping in an open field next to the church. But at one time Cody was making loads of money as a famous bass pro fisherman who had even been featured on ESPN. Yet he couldn't overcome his problem with drugs. He began a crack addiction that led him to smoke up $600,000 worth of savings, his house, his Harley, his new boat. He smoked away everything he had and ended up homeless. A man who had eaten at fine restaurants and interacted with celebrities had bottomed out and was now homeless.

But God would turn his life around—and it all started with the kindness of a church volunteer. Some people from the church's homeless ministry were handing out sandwiches in the park where Cody slept, and they told him he could get a shower at Central Christian Church. The last place Cody wanted to go was a church, but he hadn't bathed in so long that even other homeless men couldn't stand his smell anymore. Cody explained what happened next:

“I walked into the church, and this lady named Michelle, who knew me from the homeless ministry, said, "Good morning, Cody. How are you?" Then she looked at me, and she said, “Cody, you need a hug.” And I said, “Honey, you don't want to touch me because I haven't had a shower in 3 months.” If Michelle heard me, she didn't seem to care. She walked up, and she looked in my eyes, and she gave me a big hug and told me that Jesus loved me. In that split second, I was somebody. She even remembered my name. That was the point where I knew that God was alive in this world.”

Over the next several weeks, Cody's life began to be restored. He gave his life to Christ. He started leading a Bible study in the park for other homeless people. “That was over 3 years ago,” Jud says. “Now he's married, and he and his wife serve faithfully in our homeless ministry every weekend. He has his own business. From ashes, God has raised him up to use him as an instrument.” But his involvement in ministry all started with the warm embrace from one of the church's greeters.[1]

Just think how that simple act of kindness broke through a hard heart and began an invasion of God’s grace. A little kindness goes a long way. Mercy is the deepest gesture of kindness. Paul equates the two in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Moreover, Jesus said, “God . . . is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin. Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy (Luke 6:35-36).”

How kind are you? What is your kindness quotient? When was the last time you did something kind for someone in your family—e.g., got a blanket, cleaned off the table, prepared the coffee—without being asked? Think about your school or workplace. Which person is the most overlooked or avoided? A shy student? A grumpy employee? Maybe he doesn't speak the language. Maybe she doesn't fit in. Are you kind to this person?

Kindness braids mercy and grace, humility and gentleness all together. Kindness gives grace, requires humility, and asks that we think of others before ourselves. Ever notice that kindness is most appreciated when life has gone sideways? When you’re having “one of those days.” Remember 1 Corinthians 13:4—“Love is kind.” Look for ways today to give ordinary kindness, and you’ll find there’s nothing ordinary about it.[2]

[1] Jud Wilhite, Uncensored Grace (Colorado Springs, CO: Mulnomah, 2008).
[2] Charles R. Swindoll, “The Gift for the Person Who Has Everything,” Insights (June 2001): 1-2.

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