Be Ready to Respond in Kindness
I once had a really weird moment with a bank teller.
I had arrived to deposit money into my account on the third of July. Fourth of July, for my non-American readers, is Independence Day in the United States. All the banks close for this day in honor and celebration of our nation's independence. We usually celebrate with the lighting of fireworks, barbeques, and the eating of apple pie. Everyone's traditions are different but watching fireworks go off is usually apart of most people's celebrations.
The bank teller I met quickly made small talk as he handled my bank deposit. He talked about what his family was doing and where they were going to watch the fireworks. I talked about what my family would be doing. In my town, fireworks are illegal unless you go to the city's fireworks displays, which are held in various locations around the city. By law, we are not allowed to light fireworks unless you cross over into a neighboring state. The reason for this is due to dry conditions and heightened risk of forest fires we usually have in July.
The interaction with this bank teller lasted under 4 minutes. As I left, I wished him well with his holiday plans and this is when the weird moment had struck. First, he was dumbfounded that I even had paid attention to his story. He had probably told of his plans to every customer who walked into that bank but judging by his reaction, I was the first to acknowledge his plans and the fact that I was listening. Talking with a bank teller is a lot like asking the world around you, "How are you?" People answer but people rarely slow down to listen and acknowledge the response.
His mouth had dropped open and he began to stumble through his response. The simple gratitude in being acknowledged and noticed was very evident on his face.
How often do you take advantage of the opportunities to be kind to others? Do you look for those opportunities?
Read Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus is someone who wanted to see Jesus so badly that he climbed a tree. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and was unliked by his fellow man. He was known as a sinner. The crowd around him even grumbled against Jesus for Jesus' willingness to even associate with Zacchaeus, "the sinner".
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus but his own short stature prevented this. He ran ahead of Jesus, climbed a tree in hopes of getting a better look of seeing who Jesus was.
How many of us are desperate enough to lay eyes on Jesus that we are willing to set aside our own reputations and to do lists?
Here are three ways that Jesus stood as an example of
Titus 3:1-2 in this story.
Jesus was obedient. I do not believe there is any path Jesus took that was not in line with the mission that God had laid out in front of Him. I do not think that there was any accidental step in those three years of ministry. His decision to pass through Jericho on this day was not by accident. His decision to pause and stay at Zacchaeus' house was not by accident.
Do we seek God's direction and guidance in how we spend our days? Do we consult him in the direction of our day? Do we trust Him to line up Zacchaeus' in our own lives?
Jesus was prepared to do every good work. He was prepared to have His plans interrupted by people. He was prepared to have His goal of "just passing through" turn into a "stay and rest a spell" adventure. His good work allowed Him to notice Zacchaeus. His good work beckoned Him to stay at Zacchaeus' house. His good work brought change to Zacchaeus' heart and salvation to him and his family.
Are you ready for whatever God throws your way? Are you ready to have your established plans interrupted by ministry, by the call to love your neighbors, and by the mission to love others?
Jesus showed perfect courtesy to all people. He showed perfect courtesy towards sinners, such as Zacchaeus. He addressed Zacchaeus by his name and not by the label, "sinner." He did not address the grumbling crowd but treated Zacchaeus as if they were the only two people in this moment. He treated Zacchaeus with respect, love, and grace. Because of Jesus' perfect courtesy, Zacchaeus and his family would find salvation.
Have you considered how treating others with courtesy and kindness might be used to bring salvation to another family? God used such a simple act of invitation to affect change in a whole family. Our small gestures of kindness might be used to affect eternity.
When I think of my own seemingly insignificant encounter with the bank teller, I can not help but think of how the small act of noticing and truly listening to him impacted his day and my own. There is no gesture too small for God to use! Do you believe that? Do you believe that small gestures can truly impact eternity?