July 2023

A Lion lay asleep in the forest, his great head resting on his paws. A timid little Mouse came upon him unexpectedly, and in her fright and haste to get away, ran across the Lion’s nose. Roused from his nap, the Lion laid his huge paw angrily on the tiny creature to kill her. “Spare me!” begged the poor Mouse. “Please let me go and someday I will surely repay you.“ The Lion was much amused to think that a Mouse could ever help him. But he was generous and finally let the Mouse go. Some days later, while stalking his prey in the forest, the Lion was caught in the tangles of a hunter’s net. Unable to free himself, he filled the forest with his angry roaring. The Mouse knew the voice and quickly found the Lion struggling in the net. Running to one of the great ropes that bound him, she gnawed it until it split apart, and soon the Lion was free. “You laughed when I said I would repay you,” said the Mouse. “Now you see that even a Mouse can help a Lion.“ A kindness is never wasted.

The sidewalk chalk quote pictured above was taken on the same walk I spoke of in my last Pastor’s Corner. This time, the artist quoted Aesop and his fable about the Mouse and the Lion. With the line at the end of it and pictured above, you would think this fable demonstrates the sentiment in the quote, but I would argue that the fable is about quid pro quo and not kindness at all. In other words, the lion and the mouse struck a deal. If you do this for me, I will pay you back. The mouse even refers to his act as repayment for the lion not killing him when he had the chance. True kindness would not ask for repayment.

Christians need to examine the nature of kindness because we are called to kindness as a demonstration of the love Jesus commands of us. Kindness is a quality listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4 as a demonstration of what love is and is one of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians, by which our faith in God in Christ is evidenced to the world around us. The quality of being kind means generosity of spirit, giving those things that advance the well-being of those for whom it provides. Kindness is friendly, considerate, and more than being nice. It is sincere. It is voluntary and much more challenging than repaying a favor, no matter how great the favor is.

Understanding the importance of genuine kindness then becomes evidence of a person’s authenticity
of faith. If we see a person claiming Christ as Lord but consistently acting unkind, we will have cause to question the sincerity of their belief. That cuts the other way. If someone sees us treating others coldly or with malice, they will doubt our faith. Therefore, we need to take kindness seriously as a measure of character when examining ourselves and those we look to for leadership, friendship, or any relationship that has value for ourselves and others. Be wary if another offers false kindness by asking for something in return and check yourself if you begin to think you are owed a debt if you have done something kind. If we can do this, brothers and sisters, then this quote by Aesop becomes a true reflection of God’s own heart, “Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” (Luke 6:35) Amen?