Editor’s note: The following commentary is focused on faith. Guest writers featured in The News Courier are expressing their personal observations and opinions. The comments are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The News Courier and its staff.

Just be kind. Remember when those signs cropped up everywhere? Did they work? Some took them to heart, but sadly, hate, anger, greed and division have escalated.

It truly hurts my heart to hear a Christian say of another such things as, “You cannot be a Christian and gay.”

Why not? I know Christians who struggle with addictions of all kinds. I know Christians who gossip, lie and steal. No one is perfect. We all struggle with something we alone will answer for, so simply be kind. Often, the critic comes back with an example where Jesus showed anger by throwing men out of the temple. The only one with the authority to judge said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Well, that assuredly leaves me out.

It’s no wonder that many good folks who struggle have left a church because a self-righteous, overzealous Christian overstepped their bounds with harsh judgment. Just remember that when we point a finger at others, we have three more pointing back at us.

What exactly is kindness? It has many synonyms, including service, love and charity, but the word kindness implies action. It sounds like something that even I can do.

The example of Jesus is that He spent his ministry seeking out the weary, sick, poor and lonely that He might show them kindness.

By showing kindness, we become kind. It becomes easier as we practice it. Am I perfect? Not even close. But I am becoming and developing into someone who is a little more Christlike.

The great philosopher Sophocles said, “Kindness is ever the begetter of kindness.”

Being kind didn’t always come easy for me, because there had been so much unkindness shown me in my journey through adulthood. It left baggage. It left wounds that eventually healed — I now wear those scars as badges of honor. Any bad habit can be overcome, but it requires work and lots of practice. There will likely be failures, but keep trying.

A friend shared this little poem that helped her to act kindly:

I have wept in the night

For the shortness of sight

That to somebody’s need made me blind;

But I never have yet

Felt a twinge of regret

For being a little too kind.

No act of kindness is ever wasted. We cannot do a kindness too soon. Being kind changes both the giver and receiver.

Another friend shared this story.

“As a little girl I attended a small, country church. Each Sunday, when they dismissed us to go to Sunday school class, all the kids walked past a certain man sitting on the front pew. As we passed we could choose Juicy Fruit or Big Red gum. I called him the chewing gum man. because he never failed to have gum for us.

“More than 30 years later, I remember that. We make excuses that we can’t help others for lack of money, time, ability and other resources, but the truth is, it doesn’t take much to impact the lives of another.

“It can be something as small as a piece of gum. He gave us the gum because he was kind. It was an act of love. One small gesture of love can stay with us our entire lives.”

We had our own little man who disbursed Hershey’s Treasures to all us ladies. When I think of those who have impacted my life, it’s not those who spent a lot of money. It’s generally someone who was kind and loving to me. Kindness illustrates humility, which costs nothing yet is a rare find.

Wherever we find ourselves, may we look for a way to make a difference and to simply be kind. It can be as easy as holding a door open, giving a sincere compliment, helping a struggling mom at the store, sending a text, smiling with eye contact or even offering a piece of gum.

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering: Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another ... And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” Colossians 3:12-14

If you desire to be kind, simply do it. When we behave the way we want to be, pretty soon we become the way we act. As the world grows more brutal, be sure that kindness permeates your home.

We all struggle. We’re all messy. We soar in some ways, and fall miserably in others.

Nobody has figured it out, but it’s our job to encourage and cheer one another on, lift each other up and nudge each other to do better. We need to be better to one another, because we are all we have.

— A coal miner’s daughter born in Appalachia and schooled in Michigan, she currently lives in rural Athens. Hill describes herself as a cook and cookbook author, jack of all trades and master of none, a Christian wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She shares her home with her husband, Bob, and their spoiled-beyond-belief dog, Molly.

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