What do dog parks and red lights have to do with random moments of joy? Tune in to this Faith Moment to find out!
Good morning. Welcome to Faith Moments. Welcome to these few minutes that we spend together listening for the Lord, pursuing Him in our daily lives, and spending it together. So whether you’re here at the premiere this Thursday morning watching it later on, welcome. My sincere prayer is for the Lord to meet you in your day-to-day. Growing you in your faith, closeness, and devotion to Him. Today we are going to talk about something that’s very simple. It stirred me these last couple of weeks, something that I think we can grow in intentionally, no matter what our natural dispositions might be. It’s kindness. It’s the little kindnesses that we often take for granted. They are ways that are both subtle and more obvious that we can shine such a light and see a light in others. I would love to pray before we start.
Heavenly Father, we welcome you here into this time. We thank you for these minutes that we have together to consider you, your way, and some of the fruit that you’re inviting us to bear in our lives. The fruit that you enable us to bear, Lord. We ask for your presence over this time and for you to speak to our hearts. Give us soft hearts to be attentive, receptive, and obedient to you, Jesus. We thank you again, and we pray these things in your name. Amen.
I know that kindness seems like such a straightforward thing to talk about, but in the last couple of weeks especially, I’ve just been struck by the kindness of strangers around me and at how some people seem to notice little kindnesses a little bit more right now. It might be because we’ve had a little less stranger interaction for the last year. I’ve just been noticing it. I’ve been impacted by it. Let me explain.
As some of you know, my husband Andrew and I got a dog. Her name is Sasha. She’s super cute. Hopefully, that didn’t get her attention. She’s chilling, being a good girl right now. After a lot of searching, some patience, and now plenty of hard work, we have our furry family member. Just as a side note, she is a softie who just wants to sit and cuddle. Andrew is the good parent who provides structure and helps keep things moving in the right direction. Long story short, we ended up with a higher energy dog. She just needs a little more activity than we were initially anticipating. We’re not really upset about it at all because it means we have both the structure, accountability, and consequences for getting outside, enjoying the natural beauty around us, the parks, the beaches, and exercising our dog. The consequences being if we don’t, we have a very hyper and not so obedient dog at the end of the day. Now because we’re out so much more, things have been reopening, and people are more comfortable. There’s a lot more human-to-human interaction, as well as dog-to-dog interaction.
I’m learning dog owner etiquette, nodding on the trail, asking about breeds, starting to recognize them, little small talk things, which is good practice. I know it’s good for my soul. I think it’s good for us collectively as humans to interact with each other, especially after so long. For some of us, we’re still in the thick of things shut down, staying home, and we’re concerned. Not everybody’s in the same place about re-engaging strangers or being outside and stuff. Whatever your life setup is, whatever your reasons are, if you’re still home, I think there’s still something for us here too. You don’t have to be interacting with strangers for it.
Back to our dog, Sasha, She is objectively cute. I know every dog owner thinks their dog is cute, but she’s a little ridiculous on the cute scale. I know because of how other people talk about her. We as her family have the privilege and opportunity to keep her humble. It’s definitely happening. She’s been in a cone for the last week and a half. I was driving home the other day. I had the window rolled down for her. She loves sticking her face and cone out the window. At a red light, she was there with the cone out. The car stopped next to me, started doing a little baby talk to her. You know, this person in this SUV and I just started chatting. They asked about the cone and were talking about how cute she was, again, objectively cute.
It was just this random, kind, small dialogue that we had. He initiated it and was very respectful to my dog and treated me like a person who is worthy of respect and kindness. It was just this tiny little interaction. I’m not trying to make a big deal out of something so small, but there’s something that really struck me about how he went out of his way to wish us a good day and compliment my adorable dog. We drove off and I drove behind him for a little bit. Before he turned off, he pulled over to wave to me to stop. He even cracked an extra joke about how he thought Sasha was going to fly away like a kite with the cone catching all of the wind, just to make us laugh and to wish us a good day.
There was something so simple and refreshing about the kindness of this moment. Something just for me that caught me off guard about his consideration in that space. Part of that is because I was born and raised in San Francisco, which is a wonderful place. I grew up with the idea that you keep your eyes to yourself on the floor, straight ahead on your phone, whatever. I avoided human interaction. Eye contact on the street was to be avoided for me growing up. It’s something, of course, that’s changed over the last few years, especially following the Lord. I’ve never noticed it so much as I’ve noticed it now. How the little eye contact, nod, smile, the little extra holding the door open, the little acknowledgment of our fellow person made in the image of God is just sticking differently.
For some of us, this comes naturally. I want to acknowledge that this both comes differently and affects each of us differently, depending on how we’re wired. For some it’s easy; it’s normal. You’re looking at me like, why don’t you just say hello to people all the time? Why does it matter? For others of us though, it has a little bit of a bigger cost to extend ourselves in that kind of a way. It’s all about how we’re wired. Some are great at this. Some can’t stand it. Some of us, I know myself included, have gotten better over time. Maybe we didn’t start with it being natural, but by grace, we’ve gotten a little better. These moments of kindness, the extra minutes with the cashier or the barista asking a question or two, cracking a joke, smiling, holding the door, or a joke at a stop at the expense of a very cute and cone of shame wearing dog. These little moments of kindness point us back to God, whether people know it or not.
The person that I had this red light interaction with, I have no idea if he knows the Lord or not. The conversation itself wasn’t about the Lord, but his kindness reminded me of the kindness of God. That moment of random joy reminded me of the kindness and goodness of God. It inspired me to make sure, in these random moments, not to add pressure, but in the genuineness of who I am. Am I reflecting the kindness of God? Can I, even though I want to just put my head down and get my errands done or whatever it is, extend myself just a little more to demonstrate that kindness too? This kindness is from God. It’s part of the fruit of the spirit. From Galatians 5 we read, “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things, there is no law.”
If we live by the spirit, let us also keep in step with the spirit. The people of God who are demonstrating the Lord, being His hands and feet, shining a light, whatever that verse that most strikes you about how people represent God in the world, kindness is one of the fruits that is born along with patience behind the wheel in the car. Along with that peace of mind and peace in relationships. It’s Kindness, simple kindness. From Colossians 3, “put on them as God’s chosen ones as His people, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you. So you also must forgive.”
I know social media is not the best example of kindness, but I absolutely think it’s a place where we can see a little more of it. I think it’s a place we have seen it. It’s a place where I think if we’re not careful, the one-way communication of it can eliminate kindness. Interactions with people we don’t know is one of those places where we can brush off the need for it and think, ‘well, I’m not being rude. I’m just minding my own business.’ This is an invitation for us to choose to behave in a certain way. It’s the simplest thing and one of the first lessons we learn growing up. To treat other people how we want to be treated. It’s because there’s a fundamental reason for why. Our last verse, which is from Titus, helps to shed some light on it.
From Titus 3, “but when the goodness and loving kindness of God, our Savior appeared, He saved us. Not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit.” This kindness doesn’t come from us. This kindness comes straight from God and the ultimate kindness, love, and bearing one another’s burdens demonstrated on the cross. Demonstrated by how Jesus lived and chose others. How He demonstrated love. The love, kindness, patience, mercy, and righteousness of God. Because of the work He did, we are empowered to do by the spirit. It’s not us who come up with the kindness and patience all of our own strength. We won’t get anywhere that way. It’s learning to turn to God and say, “I am hesitating from interacting with a person.” Obviously safety first, but kindness winning hearts around us, starting in our own hearts, for the Lord, by the Lord.
He will do it in our hearts if we invite Him to help us do so. No matter what our natural dispositions are, I want to encourage us to find ways that are genuine to who we are and how we are to practice kindness. To stretch a little bit, especially as we are reopening. There is this opportunity we have to redefine in some ways. We have this privilege and opportunity to redefine how we will engage the world around us and each other. We’ve been apart for 15 months. For some, it’s not over yet. For some of us, we’ve already been starting to re-engage. What do we want our future to look like? How do we want to be seen? How do we want the Lord to be represented in our lives? How do we want to see Him in others?
It looks different for the small talk experts, the extroverted, who love to be around, love to start conversations versus for others. It looks different. It’s part of the way we demonstrate His love in the world. Bearing with one another, being kind, choosing forgiveness, remembering that we don’t know everything that’s in another person’s heart. If we follow the model of Jesus, we’re invited to love and be kind anyway. Especially when we disagree, I think. It’s a small way that we can give people just a touch of love that in that odd interaction at a red light just made my day. It’s a small example, I know, but may we be a people of kindness. May we be a people of love. My prayer for us as we close will be for the Lord to work that in our hearts. Whatever your dispositions are, I want to encourage you here as I will do as well as we pray. Bring that to the Lord and be reminded. He has given you gifts. He has given you a disposition, not by accident, not as a random product of your upbringing, but because he did so intentionally for a purpose for you to demonstrate an aspect of who He is to the world around you. Let’s pray and be open to how He wants to do that.
Father God, we thank you for the fruit you bear in our lives. God, we thank you for the soil that you have planted us into. We thank you for the world around us, that you’re inviting us to demonstrate you not in a forced or pretend way, Lord, but genuinely based on who each of us is. You’ve given us each a unique disposition, a different set of gifts, a personality that when you’re involved, when your spirit is working, Lord, you help us. You strengthen us. You flourish us to demonstrate a facet of who you are. We are made in your image, Lord, and so we ask here for you to help us to demonstrate your fruit, Lord. The fruit of the spirit, love, peace, patience, especially kindness here as we’ve been talking today. God, give us a heart for others in the ways that are available to us even now. As we step out of our homes increasingly and we thank you that we are in a place where we get to start doing that again. We ask for you to help us inform, for you to inform us on how we step forward and redefine our day-to-day. Lord, we commit it to you. We ask for you to do it Lord, and we pray for your blessing, Jesus.
We thank you for your kindness always day to day, accessible to us, working in us. Lord, your ultimate kindness to the world, demonstrated on the cross and through the empty grave, Lord, of the life you are inviting us into. We ask for you to have your way. We love you, Jesus. We thank you for this time and we pray for your Spirit’s help and strengthening in this. We pray these things in your name. Amen.
Thank you for tuning in and joining. I pray for the Lord to bless you and help you.