Just These Thoughts My Friends...
I recently watched an interview of a famous southern author, taped all the way back in 1974. The setting was an luscious courtyard in the French Quarter of New Orleans. You aren’t surprised. During the forty-five minute session, the interviewer asked the author questions about his life, his family, his many works, his thoughts on the present state of the world, and his friendship, or lack thereof, with many of his contemporaries. At one point in the interview the host asked what he thought was “the unforgivable sin.” He barely hesitated, as if already having been made aware of the question, before answering. He said that he believed that the one unpardonable sin was “deliberate unkindness.” He did not elaborate on the answer, though little elaboration was truly needed. He simply followed it up by saying that it was something that “no one could accuse him of.” For his many flaws, and he certainly had countless many, he believed it most important to be kind to all, all of the time.
There is, of course, a difference between being deliberately unkind, and the times when we are unkind without meaning to be so. I knew a young boy who was cleaning up after playtime and had a block puzzle intentionally knocked out of his hands by another boy. His response was to push the offending boy away. Unfortunately, that boy stumbled, fell backwards, hit his head on piping, and had to be taken to the emergency room for stitches. One of the boys was intentionally unkind. The other, the one who pushed the boy and sent him to the hospital, had also been unkind, just not deliberately. To be sure, both boys were in the wrong! Yet only one had acted with intentional unkindness in his heart, and it wasn’t me.
God has shown us his great kindness in Jesus Christ. In bringing us to a saving faith, our hearts are forever cleansed and changed. As his people, we are charged to show his kindness to all. As Paul wrote to the Colossians; Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (3:12) Those things that Paul lists, including kindness, go a long, long way in touching the lives of others. Kindness engenders us to others, and is a true witness of what we have received. Unkindness, especially intentional unkindness, turns folks away, puts up walls, harms and hurts, and causes people to question the authenticity and validity of our witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. We are good to think about this the next time we find ourselves in the midst of a conflict. Our response offered in kindness could end up being a blessing to others.
Friends, a heart changed by the love of the Father is a heart that is kind. And a kind heart will bless the lives of many. Let us strive to never be deliberately unkind to anyone or anything. Instead, let us choose kindness and be kind to each other thereby showing the kindness that our God has shown us first.
Your Pastor and Friend,
Dr. Chris Leonard
Pastor’s Note: The Bible would seem to make clear that there is only ONE unforgivable or unpardonable sin. After being asked about this, the late Dr. Billy Graham answered; There is only one sin on God’s list that can’t be forgiven —and that is the sin of rejecting Him and refusing His offer of forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ. This alone is the unforgivable sin, because it means we are saying that the Holy Spirit’s witness about Jesus is a lie (see Luke 12:10).