Kindness Must Be Helpful

(Editor’s note: This past Sunday, after speaking about Christ’s invitation to His disciples then and now to become, ‘fishers of men,’ Kay Hart came to me with this story.  I asked her to send it to me so I could present it on my blog and make a few comments.  –geno)

A couple of years ago when I was in graduate school, I overheard a conversation a couple of tables from me. Of course, I don’t remember it word-for-word and I didn’t catch the beginning. Apparently, one or more of those talking had been given a free soft drink with a church’s name on a label. It seemed that one of them must have asked why and heard that phrase we know and love so well, “I’m just trying to show God’s love in a practical the way.” In short, my grad school colleagues were not impressed. One of them said something like, “I don’t care if churches pass out marketing material, just don’t give me this b*s* about doing it to show me God’s love. Passing out cokes to middle class college students is just about promoting your church. Admit it. That’s all I’m saying.” Another said something like, “If you want to show me God’s love, mentor a kid in East Austin or volunteer at Big Brothers and Sisters. If you want to show me God’s love, meet some real needs.”

That’s the story. Made me think.

–Kay Hart

A few comments are in order, I believe:

1) Our acts of kindness must be truly helpful to those receiving them in order to represent God’s love appropriately.  I agree that middle-class college students don’t need a cold soda, most of the time.  But over-heated drivers stuck in a traffic jam will.

2) The fact is that Christians are engaged in tutoring and working among  the needy and oppressed all across our city, including in East Austin mentoring programs and volunteering with Big Brother/Sisters.

3) Criticism is almost guaranteed when we attempt anything important for God.  We do not shrink back because someone is offended.  We look to see how we can do better.  Our task is too important to give up in the face of critique.  Let’s press on loving well, always learning, growing in grace.

–geno

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2 Responses to Kindness Must Be Helpful

  1. Paul Dyba says:

    No, Geno, to giving anyone a can of regular Coke to someone who is thirsty. Maybe, only maybe, a can of diet Coke, for a regular Coke (and almost any soda) often has up to 43 grams of sugar. I am diabetic, and I have paid a steep price for having consumed food and drink with high amounts of processed sugar. Now, when I am thirsty, I drink plain water or water flavored with a squeezed lemon or a lime,

  2. Kay Hart says:

    I agree with all of your comments, Geno. As I mentioned on Sunday, I remember thinking at the time that some of their accusations were unfair. I would only add one thing. Most of us do things from mixed motives at least sometimes. It is easy to mix our desire to show the love of God with the desire to be self-promotional. In fact, I think only Jesus was able to, with complete accuracy, “show us the Father.” As you said, that shouldn’t cause us to pull back, but it can encourage us to live in humility before Him, asking Him to root out ego-centered motives. For me the memory of this conversation sends me to knees, asking God to give me the grace to reflect His love honestly and purely. BTW, that was a great sermon!

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