Teach our Children that It’s Their Kindness that Leads People to Repentance (Romans 2:4)*
According to a 1989 USA Today report, 90 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Experts tell us, however, that only one in five people follow through on their vows to lose weight, get out of debt, get along with my boss, do a better job at work or simply develop a daily devotional life. Helping your son or daughter to be self-disciplined enough to do what needs to be done is no small task. To be self-disciplined is to know one’s whims, patterns, preferences, strengths and weaknesses. To know them so well in fact that, according to Paul and Sarah Edwards, who are gurus of the work-at-home movement, “we can literally feed ourselves the exact words, schedule, food, routines, and resources we need to nourish our competence and enable us to operate consistently at our best.”
But, I’d like to suggest still another, perhaps far more important New Year’s resolution: kindness. Since many of the resolutions that spring fourth from the modern American mind deal with work-related issues, consider this … As one wise, godly HR director once shared: tell your sons and daughters that when a person works hours like the traditional 9 to 5—or some other expected combination of hourly tasks—getting to know your co-workers will be inevitable. And, what we know about them, warts and all, and what we do with what we know about them will ultimately tell God and others what kind of person we really are … deep inside.
Our children need to be instructed that there are basically two ways to use knowledge, destructively or constructively. You see, when you or I step into the “Confessional” we are in a most unique and sacred environment; one where the knowledge that is gleaned by the priest about our sins—our darkest, most shameful secrets—is confessed for the one purpose of constructively rebuilding that person’s broken relationship with God. We call this act of kindness “reconciliation”.
On the other hand, Satan—who we are told in the Scriptures, “is the accuser of the brethren” (see Revelation 12:10)—uses knowledge gleaned about an individual’s shortcomings (usually through gossip) destructively; in the hopes of irreparably damaging them for life. See the difference? Certainly, in this New Year we must teach our children to be kind observers of their friends and co-workers. After all, they stand in a very privileged place to be able to see both strengths and weaknesses on a daily basis. What they do with what they observe will tell God and others whether they stand with the Devil or the Savior of all lost souls.
Again, we should look to Jesus as the ultimate example.
“The Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger. When they kept on questioning Him He straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her’” (John 8:3-8).
*This article–written by The Rev Dr Michael O’Donnell–first appeared in the January 20th, 2012 edition of The Colorado Catholic Herald.