Try a Little Kindness.
The other day someone posted a YouTube video of the Glen Campbell 1970 release Try a Little Kindness. 1970 was a time of cultural stress in the United States and Campbell's song soothed a few nerves in the American psyche. Headline news then included---more than 100,000 Americans protested the Vietnam War in the nation's capital; President Nixon ordered the secret invasion of Cambodia; the Chicago 7 were convicted of instigating a riot at the Democratic convention two years earlier; the Apollo 13 astronauts radioed "Houston, we have a problem" when their oxygen tanks malfunctioned and the mission was cancelled. And, woe is me, Paul McCartney announced that the Beatles were breaking up. In addition, gender dynamics were beginning to surface, younger Americans were demanding voting rights, and racial tensions continued to mount. All to conclude that Campbell's Try a Little Kindness resonated with our population. It was the number two hit on country charts.
Kindness? Sure, it's a cure-all for many cultural anxieties. Who doesn't brighten up when kind words are spoken or when a smile or warm greeting is extended? Even more, just think how some of the vitriol of social and electronic media could be abated by words and language that is pleasing to God. And, that's a broad understanding of the Hebrew words translated gracious in Solomon's Proverbs. The people of his day would have equated gracious words with language acceptable to the Father. Make note---
The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are
Proverbs 15: 26, ESV
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 16:24, ESV
He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his
Proverbs 22:11, ESV
Gracious words drip with purity, and sweetness. The king will embrace a gracious person as friend when critical assessments are over-ridden by generous and kind speech. Those were most likely words from King Solomon's own heart. He knew the bitter taste of hateful talk. So, do most of our elected officials these days. Shame on us. We ought to try a little kindness.
The Apostles Luke and Paul also wrote about gracious talk. Luke's orderly account of Christ's life includes an assessment of his teaching by the people in the synagogue at Nazareth. They acknowledged that Jesus was the earthly son of Joseph. They could not imagine where he had mastered the holy language of the day. Luke wrote---
And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from
Luke 4: 22, ESV
Jesus, our Lord and example spoke words of grace. In a second New Testament reference The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Colossae. His instruction Included inspired thought about their use of language. He wrote---
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you
ought to answer each person.
Colossians 4: 6, ESV
Paul had faced every kind of opposition, hardship, and hateful words. He reminded his readers that gracious words are beneficial in every verbal interchange.
Luke and Paul used a Greek term more familiar to us. Gracious words were words filled with grace, charis, commonly defined as unmerited favor. This kindness isn't usually deserved or earned. Gracious words don't retaliate, settle scores, or take aim at the person receiving them. The are how we should respond to every person in a verbal exchange, regardless of the circumstances that occasion them.
These are volatile times. Media today gives us the social distancing that enable us to lower the boom on people that disagree with us. In such times, we should Try a Little Kindness so that our words, even when hard, are not harsh or destructive.
Try a Little Kindness. It's a double blessing---one, to the person who delivers them, and two, to the one who speaks them. Click here to listen to Glen Campbell.