“I’ll show you, Alia.”
I watched as four-year-old Molly kindly demonstrated what to do with a crayon. Meanwhile, the other children in my Sunday school class stared at the visitor, baffled that someone didn’t know how to color! But Molly was right there helping Alia learn a new skill. When the coloring was done, Molly showed Alia where to put her picture and then took her hand and led her to the story mat.
I was not surprised that Molly showed such kindness to the young visitor who had, until the past month, spent her life in a refugee camp in Africa. I was not surprised that when the other kids backed off, Molly rushed up to her, gave her a hug and immediately became her friend.
I was not surprised because I had watched Molly’s parents do the same thing for Alia’s parents. Molly’s busy, executive father spent his valuable free time teaching Alia’s dad to drive a car. Molly’s mom accompanied them to needed doctor’s appointments and the grocery store.
No one told Molly to become Alia’s friend. She was mirroring what her parents had done. And, just like her parents continued to help the family, so Molly continued to be that loving friend.
Think about it.
We want our kids to possess a deep kindness that reaches out to others. We get them involved in missions’ projects that help kids in faraway countries or faraway places in our own country … or maybe even in a nearby city.
But how focused are we on reaching those with whom we come into contact in our everyday life? Would your child be the first to welcome a new kid to the neighborhood if that child was smelly and weirdly dressed? (How quickly would you welcome his parents?) Would your child offer to help the girl in his class who everyone teases because she struggles with her work? (How willing are you to help out that single mom at church, the one with the three runny-nosed kids?) Would your child be like Molly and instantly show Alia she had her back? (Would you help Alia’s parents, or would you figure contributing $10.00 to the cause covered your part of the church’s “project.”)
God’s Word plainly tells us, We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves (Romans 15:1). And we’re fine with that verse as long as we’re helping people who live overseas (whom we will never see) and as long as reaching out to people doesn’t take any real effort.
In Matthew 5:16 we read: In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. We often use that verse in the context of letting non-Christians out “there” see the way we live … but let’s take it closer to home: How do our kids perceive our actions?
Are we to teach our kids to reach out to those who live in developing countries? Are we to care about kids living in homeless shelters? Are we to send money to missionaries sharing the gospel in villages that have had little contact with Christianity? Of course we are. All these things are our responsibility.
Are we showing our kids that sometimes it takes effort to help the unlovable, the struggling, the hungry, the stranger …
Right here and right now?
We need to let our light shine so that not only others, but our own kids can see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.