Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor. Proverbs 21:21
What Smokey & the Bandit Taught Me About Kindness
The greatest movie of 1977 was Smokey and the Bandit. I’ll fight anyone who disagrees with me! I know Rocky won the Academy Award for best picture that year, but think about it. Rocky lost his fight at the end (sorry if this is a spoiler, but the movie is 44 years old, so that’s kind of on you). But, on the other hand, Bandit actually completed his mission and did what they said couldn’t be done.
Also, the theme song to Smokey and the Bandit is a lot catchier than Rocky. When you sing the Rocky theme, you just go “duh duh du-du-duh du-du-du-du-du-duhhhh.” Nothing tops Eastbound and Down by Jerry Reed.
I think I’ve made my case.
I’m in Hot Pursuit!
Throughout the movie, Sheriff Buford T. Justice (the main antagonist in this timeless drama) says he’s in “hot pursuit” of the Bandit (and Snowman, Frog, and Fred the dog. That goes without saying). But is he really? Think about it. The sheriff stops for lunch, takes several wrong turns, and his son even picks wildflowers at one point. None of that sounds like “hot pursuit” to me.
Pursuing or Playing?
So, somehow, as I was working through Proverbs 21:21, I couldn’t help shake the thought of Sheriff Justice claiming to be in “hot pursuit” when all the evidence pointed to the contrary. And that got me thinking about myself and what I’m really pursuing.
Proverbs 21:21 says, “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” I talk a lot about kindness. I preach about kindness, tell others to “be kind,” and remind myself of my own need for kindness. But honestly, sometimes it feels like I’m playing at kindness instead of pursuing it.
If I were really pursuing kindness, I wouldn’t react with anger when someone in a ’77 Pontiac Trans Am Firebird cuts me off in traffic.
(Of course, I’m speaking of a metaphorical Trans Am. It could be any kind of vehicle, really)
The point is, there’s no promise in playing at kindness. The only promise we have is when kindness becomes our pursuit–when we give it our all and offer it to all.
Pursue Righteousness and Kindness
The proverb calls us to pursue righteousness and kindness together. “Righteousness” is that recognition that each person we encounter bears the image of their Creator. We can only respond to that recognition is by extending kindness to those who bear God’s image.
Let’s pursue kindness together. Let’s pursue it for each other and for those around us who are in need.
How Did It Go?
I’ve only got a few weeks left in this Proverbs series. My goal when I planned the series was to keep them short and light; that didn’t work out so well. I made a conscious effort to keep this one short. As a result, people were shocked when they realized the service was over! In keeping these sermons short I wanted my people to appreciate the brevity of the Proverbs as well as the sermons. That’s something I still need to work on.
I wonder if people are tired of hearing me talk about kindness. I recently had to write my “Philosophy of Ministry” for a program I’m applying to. Reflecting on everything I read in the Bible and see in the human condition, my conclusion came down to simply “be kind to one another.”
Kindness is a simple enough place to begin. When I treat others with kindness, I am responding to the image of God in them. It’s a place that builds unity and calls each of us to serve others.
So what is the kindest thing I can do for someone? Sometimes kindness means “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and working through some difficult issues that are distorting the way we view ourselves and others. Sometimes it involves calling people deeper than they’re willing to go and holding them to a standard of behavior and love that they don’t think is possible.
Actively pursuing the image of God in others through kindness. We can call it “ministry,” or we can call it “shepherding.” Ultimately, it calls us together toward Christ. As Paul would say, it “makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:16).
Proverbs 21:21 really brought that home for me. By linking kindness with righteousness we see that kindness is indeed a holy calling.
It’s Chaos. Be Kind.