Recently a friend in our church related an amazing story concerning his grandmother Lois Cowles. In 2005, Lois’ family received an out-of-the-blue call from a man who, as a boy, had grown up beside them in Arizona. The boy’s father had been the fire chief in that small town. It had been twenty-five years since the Cowles’ family had seen or heard from this individual. In fact, as a child the man was a right nuisance in the neighborhood, and so Lois’ sons had often played rough with the little rascal.
The man called the Cowles after all those years to tell them that he had repented and come to faith in Christ as his Savior and Lord. He explained that a few years prior he had been incarcerated and sunk into a pit of deep despair, to the point where he attempted to take his life. As the man was getting ready to hang himself with the bedsheet in his cell, for some reason he paused. He went on to communicate that at that moment, on the verge of eternity, he called out to “the God of Lois Cowles.” He recounted that he called out to the “God of Lois Cowles” because she had always treated him nicely, even though he was a nasty kid. Lois always gave him candy whenever he memorized a Bible verse, as she shared the love of Christ with him. Because of Lois’ love, kindness and patience, the man called out to “her God” and prayed to be saved. He wanted the Cowles family to know that the “God of Lois Cowles” was now his God.
What a story, and what a reminder of the power of kindness. Like the dropping of a pebble into a pond, small acts of undeserved kindness can have a ripple effect that can reach out over time and affect the lives of many in a big way. The kindness of God, which leads us to repentance, can lead others to repentance when put on display in our lives, in both small deeds and bold actions (Rom. 2:4; Titus 3:1-8).
This is Paul’s heart as he writes to Timothy, his son in the faith, encouraging him to be gentle, patient, and humble in correcting those who oppose the gospel (2 Tim. 2:23-26). Paul doesn’t want Timothy getting in the way of God’s saving purposes with unkind and harsh behavior. Timothy was encouraged to show kindness and understanding, because his opponents were victims of Satan’s deception. Timothy was to show kindness and understanding to those who opposed the gospel because the gospel centers on the message of God’s kindness to those who oppose Him. Paul warned Timothy not to bruise the fruit that God intended to pick with harsh words or an argumentative spirit. Again, Timothy was instructed to be gentle, patient, and humble in his attempts to correct those who oppose Christ. Fruit in evangelism requires the fruit of gentleness (Gal. 5:23; 1 Peter 3:15)
That is a good word! In dealing with people, including problem people, let us deal with them with an affable spirit, and in a kind and thoughtful manner. Gentleness is the oil that takes unnecessary friction out of life. Gentleness is the oil that greases the tracks toward Christ. Throw someone a lifeline today with a soft answer, a kind deed, or a loving embrace.
Let us give people reasons to call out to our gentle and loving Savior (Matt. 11:28-29)!