When you're in the Sandbox. Philippians 2.1-4
What difference does it make?
Are you kinder?
Do you find yourself being a little more patient?
Does giving another the 'benefit of the doubt' come easy?
How do you act when someone is rude to you?
Yesterday I had the chance to dialog with myself about all of those questions. Why? You guessed it-I was traveling. Rental car shuttles, airport security lines, boarding an airplane and having the middle seat on the plane made me aware of my internal knee-jerk reactions-when tired, what I thought of saying and doing. It also showed me the value of taking a nano second to think better of it. I wanted to say, 'Are you kidding me right now? If you scooted over a bit, that man could sit down too.' 'Seriously, tall blonde lady? You just pushed past this small, much older lady in line!' 'Wait-I'm sandwiched in between you, tall rude blonde lady and someone else? Oh, great.' 'Hey, tall blonde lady, it seems you are suffering from some intestinal distress!' Yes, all of these thoughts and more bubbled to the surface, but thankfully, I overrode them all. I used my own internal veto power to behave nicely in the Sandbox.
Paul was not writing to people who flew on airplanes or used rental cars or dealt with airport security, but what he wrote to the Philippians was apt for Christians in first century Greek life and believers in the 21st century as well.
It just so happens that I love Philippians chapter two, but for some reason, I am wont to skip right to verse five:
"You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had."1
But just a minute, look with me at Paul's instruction to the little community he loved:
"If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ,
if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community
of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care-
then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep- spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top.
Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.
Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage.
Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand."2
Translation, please. You who aspire to be Christ followers, it should make a difference in your behavior. Your trump card, Believer, should have a 'K' in the corners-not as in King, but as in Kindness.
Come and look with me at another brilliant translation of these thoughts of Paul's, formed in questions:
"Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another,
and working together with one mind and purpose.
Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests,
but take an interest in others, too."3
Oh, Brother Paul, your words are so good. So right. Our desire to follow Jesus, if sincere, ought translate to loving others as he did. Jesus showed us a better way in part because of his humility. Ergo as a Christian who wants to honor God, I want to lead with kindness in my transactions with others. Okay, so yes, I want to be more patient in the security line when someone is unnecessarily rude and give others the benefit of the doubt in their off-putting behaviors as well.
Do things for people
Not because of who they are or what they do in return
But because of who you are...4
Because sooner or later--sometimes every day, we are in the sandbox with others, and kindness matters.
1 - Philippians 2.5, New Living Translation
2 - Philippians 2.1-4, The Message
3 - Philippians 2.1-4, New Living Translation
4 - Harold S. Kushner