Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3 & 4 NASB)
While driving home from North Dakota to visit some family I saw a billboard with two words on it.
That’s all. No explanation.
It made me smile. It was a plain simple truth that I need to hear more often.
As I pondered those words it reminded me of the Christmas when I was 5. My parents, two sisters and I were visiting my immigrant grandparents on their North Dakota farm.
My grandpa was an unusually quiet man. Living through the depression had brought a sadness to him that I couldn’t understand. He rarely spoke. The only words I remember him speaking to me, were spoken that day.
My younger cousin was getting more attention than I was. In my jealousy I stuck my foot out as she went by. It tripped her. She picked herself up and kept moving with a smile on her face.
That’s when it happened. My grandpa looked at me and said. “That wasn’t very nice.”
Nothing more was said, but those words cut me to my soul. He didn’t yell or ask why. There were no extenuating circumstances that mattered. He spoke a few plain words that stated the awful truth.
I wasn’t being nice.
The realization horrified me for two reasons.
1) I had to face the reality that I wasn’t as nice as I pretended.
2) I had disappointed my Grandpa.
The man who never spoke was finally speaking to me. I had mistaken his silence for indifference or not noticing. Obviously he was noticing more than I imagined.
I never really got to know this quiet gentle man who was my Grandpa. He died when I was 12. Someday when I see him again maybe I’ll have an opportunity to thank him for those few words I remember him speaking, and just maybe I’ll hear him say, “I see you learned to be nice.”
For further study:
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
Matthew 5:44-46; Luke 6:35; John 15:12-17; Romans 5:8; 12:10; 13:8; I John 4:10-11, 19.