Dr. X was one of my college professors. I conceal his name because some might recognize him as a highly regarded preacher among churches of Christ. He was well-educated.Presumably, he knew well the data of the Bible courses he taught. But, maybe he missed a big part of the point of the book he taught; Dr. X was mean.Former students remember him as one who delighted inhumiliating shy, uncertain students, perhaps thinking that we needed toughening up.
Mr. Y drove a beat-up tow truck in rural Alabama. I don’t give his name because, regretfully,I don’t remember it. I only met him once the summer after my freshman year of college,when my VW Beetle died just outside his little town. Mr. Y, for reasons I’ll never fully know, was kind to me.
He first tried to restart my car. Then, he towed it into town and refused to let me pay. He offered me a freelong-distance call to my parents and entertained me in his office with a free coke and his life story – a story of wrecked marriages and lost fortunes because of his earlier drinking problem.Mr. Y even offered me a free loaner car to finish my trip home to Georgia. Said to keep it as long as needed - just bring it back when I could.
I was shocked by his kindness. Hard to figure why Mr. Y was so kind to me. Or, why Dr. X was so unkind. I know that, on the surface of things, most people would see X with his fine degree and nice office and celebrated reputation as much more successful than poor, alcoholic Y in his greasy little shop. I’m not so sure.
For all his flaws, Mr. Y got one thing right – being kind. God himself says that’s big. “If I have the gift of prophecy,” he says “and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). And “love,” he adds, “is kind” (v. 4).
Pretty simple, huh? Be kind. Or be nothing.
To solve life’s equation, plug kindness in as the variable. Be kind to your spouse. To your children. Your friends. To strangers on the street. Kind even to your enemies. God says that goes a long way toward getting life right.