It was a sunny afternoon as I pulled behind a long line of cars at the bank. I rolled the windows down, not minding the wait and joined in the single file line that had formed in front of me—each person waiting for the next station to open up so they could pull in and do their banking. Now the next person in line, I felt the breeze sweep across my face and smiled as I listened to my young daughter babbling in the backseat. I noticed swift movement from the corner of my right side. A middle aged man whipped past me, almost scraping the side of my vehicle as he pulled in front of me—apparently deciding that he wasn't going to wait for the system that me and the numerous cars that had gone before me were employing. Not only did he cut me off but he actually looked at me and shook his head in disgust, as though I was doing something wrong—making him wait and all. Thankfully I was too shocked to really react. But as the minutes went on I realized just how rude that man was. At the end of the day, I was really angry! What an awful impact he had on my pleasant afternoon. I told my husband about the encounter in disbelief later that day, and I just couldn't quite shake the feeling of being hurt.
Sometimes it's easy to be that guy. We're busy. We have our own way of doing things and other people can be frustrating. After that incident I realized what a poor example that man was of kindness and courtesy. And it made me think of my extra responsibility as a Christian to do better. So much of our witnessing is done in our day-to-day encounters. People often come to the truth because they are impacted in a powerful way by those who already have it. Consider this scripture, "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4 Romans 2:4Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
American King James Version×). It is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance. Likewise, it will be that goodness of God reflected in us, His followers, that will draw people in. It strikes me just how important our attitude and demeanor is as we go about our daily lives. Are you a noticeably pleasant person? Do you go out of your way to be friendly? It matters!
Open the door with your goodness
I think as Christians we can be quick to draw the distinction between ourselves and the world by defining the sin that exists "out there." Perhaps rather than coming from a place where our first interaction with somebody is splashing them in the face with the "cold, hard truth," we should focus on being so loving and thoughtful that people notice something different about us. Open the door with your goodness and people will willingly listen to God's standards. The first step to drawing people to repentance is building a genuine relationship, and the first step to that is a warm and approachable demeanor.
A few weeks later I found myself at the bank again. Because of my previous experience I took a gamble, picked a line and pulled right in behind one station even though no one was behind me. Shortly afterwards another man pulled in beside me. Well, I picked the wrong line and the car in front of him pulled out. Much to my surprise, the man rolled his window down, put his car in reverse and motioned for me to take his spot. As a smile instantly washed across my face I thanked him and waved him forward anyways. You see, I never really cared about the waiting and I didn't need to go first. But that man completely made my day. What a stark contrast that simple gesture of kindness was to the rushed, rude man a few weeks before. This man's goodness made me want to do good too; it was contagious. That's why my first reaction was to wave him forward and let him go first. I bet because he lifted my mood so much I was even more friendly to the bank teller and anyone else I talked with that day. So really he didn't just bless me, he also blessed those people I came into contact with.
A refreshing encounter can change not just someone's day, but their life
God is calling us to be that type of person. The type whose goodness not only blesses those we see, but encourages those people to bless others too. It matters whether you make the extra effort to smile first at people as they walk by. It matters that you take the time to actually look up from your phone and engage with the person ringing up your order. We never know when our goodness will call someone into a relationship and when that relationship can blossom into exposure to God and His way. The kind man at the bank so impacted me that it shaped my whole day, and that was probably a month ago. Yet here I am, still grateful, and writing an article about it. Make an effort. Exude warmth. Overflow with goodness. Be that person.