In the process of studying love in the Bible, from 1 Cor. 13, I learned that kindness, as it is used in the Bible, is when something is given that was not earned or deserved. Kindness is a part of love. When we choose to be kind to someone, it is part of an expression of our love for that person.
Daily Walks/Runs in the Neighborhood
As part of my daily routine, I spend a little time each morning either walking or running in my neighborhood. Now, over the past seven years, since I bought the house, the type of people on the streets has changed. The neighborhood is looking increasingly more inner-city. The people I pass on my walks and runs are no longer the retired N.A.S.A. scientists and school teachers. Where I used to see smiles and other gestures of kindness, I see angry faces, if I see anything at all. Most of the people I meet on the streets anymore refuse to acknowledge me.
But I made a decision several years ago that my attitude of kindness would not be contingent upon my neighbors’ responses. So I smile, sometimes wave, sometimes greet them with a “good morning” and always make eye contact (something that is supposed to be a big no-no in inner-city life).
It has been interesting to watch what happens over the years as I consistently greet those who refuse to acknowledge me. As time passes, they soften up and the first thing that happens is I see a smile. Then after a week or two of smiles, I’ll get a good morning in return. Then, much later, on a few rare occasions, someone will spot me from a ways off, wave to me, seemingly excited to see me.
Righteousness Is Not Contagious Haggai 2:11-14
Haggai 2:11-14 tells us that righteousness is not contagious. You cannot make a difference in this world just by being in it. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes the courage to do something for other people even when they refuse to do it for you.
I know it doesn’t sound like much. So what? It’s just a smile, right?
I disagree. I think when people finally begin smiling back, it represents a step in the right direction. That one small change in the neighborhood makes a very big difference in the long run.
I encourage you to be friendly to the people you see every day. Make the effort. Smile at them whether they seem to like it or not. Greet them kindly whether you feel like it or not. If righteousness is not contagious and if it requires effort on our parts, then what better way to get started than to brighten someone’s day?