There’s a phrase in pop culture that describes the way that people hope their kids live when they grow up, how they hope their bosses treat them at work, and how they’d like members of their families to react in their moments of weakness and mistakes. It’s short and sweet, it speaks softly – but carries a big stick. Perhaps you’ve heard someone say it. Perhaps you’ve used it yourself.
“Kill them with kindness.”
At its core it’s a juxtaposition of violence and peace, anger and self-control. It doesn’t really make sense, and yet we all know what it means. The way to treat someone is to overwhelm them with so much kindness and goodness, that it ends them. Death by kindness – sure it’s a death – but it sounds like such a pleasant way to go. I’m imagining being beaten to death by soft fluffy pillows or drowning in a giant tub of the delicious strawberry jello that my grandma used to make; an incredible back rub that eventually wears through your skin and forces your lungs to collapse, or the actual end result of every child’s worst enemy, the dreaded tickle torture. No matter the literal cause of death, if it’s kindness related, you can be sure the cops won’t be knocking on your door.
Perhaps I’m a sucker for a good one-liner, but lately, I have been thinking about another phrase that might just do the whole world some good. Mine comes from the foundation of faith, leads to unrelenting forgiveness, and hopefully can be used best as an evangelistic tool. It’s sneaky, but in the best way possible. I hope you’ll live it, and pass it along.
“Get them with grace.”
There’s just something about receiving the unmerited favor of another person that makes you want to dig deeper into their thought process and reasoning. When someone gives you a gift you don’t deserve and could never repay them for, it makes you feel as though there’s something different about them. Different in the best possible way. Different in a way that means you’re likely to be seeing a lot more of them, and hopefully someday, attempting to emulate them as well.
But here’s where I let you in on a dirty little secret. Actually, it’s not dirty at all, and it’s not that much of a secret. I didn’t come up with this idea – Jesus did. You don’t have to look too far to find it. Forgiving the adulterous woman at the well (gasp). Calling Matthew, the tax collector to follow (scary music). Forgiving people of their sins (oh no He didn’t!?). The example of grace in the parable of the prodigal son (He did what?!). And the words “Father forgive them” and “you will be with me in paradise” as He hangs on the cross. All of these and more, are examples of a man who understood that the best way to draw people in, was to do what they didn’t expect, and offer them a place in the Kingdom of God.
Grace is contagious. It’s the kind of thing that once it starts spreading in a crowd, you’ll never be able to stop it. But why would you? If you and I could adopt and begin to live by, these two little phrases – the whole world would suffer from kindness whiplash and be in a grace-filled grave. And if you’re asking me, that sounds like a place we all might really LIKE to be.