Good Friday Kindness
April 16, 2014 • By Ed Wrather
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. - Ephesians 4:31-32.
Some people living in Halifax, Nova Scotia were shocked last month when a stranger unexpectedly gave them money in the form of $50 and $100 dollar bills. Richard Wright was the man handing out the free money. Richard had a simple message for the recipients and that message was to “thank God” and to give the money forward if they didn’t need it themselves. However, Richard was not able to complete his giving spree because the Canadian Mounted Police became concerned about his mental health. The police detained Richard and moved him to a mental health facility. Richard’s daughter reported that her father did not have any mental health problems. The daughter, Chelsea, said that her father had worked hard for the money, but wanted to try to help people. One of Richard’s friends said that he is “a generous man wrapped up in the acts of kindness.” (Yahoo News, 03.24.14)
While I was a parole officer I did sometimes encounter people with mental health issues. For someone to be taken into custody and transferred to a mental health facility for evaluation there was a procedure to follow. Two peace officers plus a doctor had to agree that there was a problem serious enough for the evaluation. In one situation where this occurred, my client told me that he was hearing voices telling him to hurt people. I took that to mean that he was hearing voices telling him to hurt me. The good news is that many years later he is doing well. It is true that some people do at times have mental issues, but the actions and words of Christians have always been looked upon as being somewhat strange.
I can picture Richard being locked down and alone in a mental health facility. Most likely there is video surveillance, and as Richard begins speaking it draws the attention of those tasked with his care. They likely believe the diagnosis of mental illness is confirmed when they hear words similar to these, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Who was it that first uttered those words? Yes, it was Jesus. Those were the first words that he said after he was nailed to the cross (Luke 23:24). Those who heard those words of Jesus must have been shocked. Instead of screaming in agony, He says that those who are executing Him should be forgiven. In kindness, Jesus forgives the repentant thief being crucified with Him (Luke 23:43). In kindness, Jesus arranges for the care of His mother (John 19:26-27). In kindness toward all of humanity, Jesus finishes the task of becoming the perfect sacrifice (John 19:30), the Lamb of God (John 1:29).
Jesus has demonstrated the ultimate example of kindness. What is it that He would have us to do? “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23).” Indeed, to truly follow the example of Jesus it will require that we put to death our own fleshly desires and replace them with…Jesus. What our world really needs is some Good Friday Kindness. How would Jesus have you to be kind today?