The flu is pretty hard to avoid this time of year. Chances are someone in your family, at work, in your kids’ class at school, or at the gym will come down with the flu and you’ll need to be cautious not to catch it. If you want to avoid the flu, you’ll need to do a couple things. First, ensure that your immune system is functioning at its highest efficiency (not eating all available candy in sight will help). Second, avoid sick people. The problem with the second one is that you don’t know who is or who isn’t sick. And the flu is highly contagious. Careful, don’t get too close! You might get sick.
There’s another type of condition that is highly contagious: kindness.
Kindness can infect the people around you. It can change a hard heart into a soft one. It can start a friendship. Kindness can break down walls and build trust among enemies. Kindness can lead to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Take this story, for example:
An older couple, having been turned off to Christianity, told their new neighbors after finding out he was a pastor, in no uncertain terms, that they never wanted him to speak to them about his faith. “I promise you,” Jason responded, “I’ll never talk to you about my faith until you ask me.”
Over the next few years, the two couples periodically exchanged greetings across the street and sometimes exchanged mail that had been delivered to the wrong house. Though the relationship was cordial, Jason and his wife Eileen prayed for an opportunity to help their neighbors see beyond the abuse they had suffered. Five years later an opening came. While picking up mail one day, Jason discovered a bill intended for his neighbors. He walked over, and noticing their paper still on the driveway, picked it up too and took it to their door.
“You haven’t gotten out to get the paper yet today?” Jason asked the wife when she answered the door.
“We just can’t get it ourselves anymore.” Their deteriorating medical conditions prevented them from walking to the end of their hundred–foot driveway. “My son brings it to us when he comes by after work.”
Jason’s response was immediate. “What if I bring your paper over every morning when I get mine?” The woman told him not to bother, but he could tell it would be a blessing to them. For the next seven years, Jason or Eileen picked up their neighbors’ paper in the morning, walked it up to their driveway, and set it on the back porch.
That simple act opened a huge door. The conversations that ensued during that time through casual chatter, medical emergencies, and neighborhood issues allowed a friendship to blossom, and finally the neighbors asked Jason and Eileen to share what they knew about Jesus. Eventually they came to believe as well, and when the husband passed away, Jason was asked to officiate at his funeral. A simple act of kindness over the years had washed away the anger and softened their hearts to the gospel. 1
A simple act of kindness can open a door to share the love of Jesus with a person who may otherwise never want to hear the Gospel. The opposite is true as well. Selfishness will keep those same doors closed, or even slammed shut and locked.
Philippians 2:3–5 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
Sometimes our selfishness is not deliberate, premeditated, or willful; many times it’s just the result of another sickness we already have called sin. It’s often the subconscious act of a life pursuing this world rather than a life in pursuit of the attitude of Christ Jesus. Kindness, on the other hand, is always a premeditated, deliberate choice that we make. And when we make that choice over and over again, people notice. Others begin to get infected and the condition of kindness spreads in such a way that no flu shot could ever contain it. Careful, don’t get too close! You might catch it.
Dave Nicodemus is the Communications & Creative Arts Pastor and has served at Grace Polaris eight years, seven and a half of those as the High School Pastor. He’s the husband of Carly and father to Jack, Henry, Emilia, and Charlie. His favorite candy bar is the highly underrated Take5.
1 Excerpt from Authentic Relationships by Wayne and Clay Jacobsen, pg 70,71