1 Peter 3:8-9
Finally, be you all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brothers, be pitiful, be courteous:…
When the writer was a boy, there was in his neighbourhood a stable where a troublesome horse was kept. This horse had a most inveterate habit of kicking. His owner, however, took care always to explain that though his horse was a furious kicker, "it did not mean anything." Poor consolation certainly to anybody who received a kick — that the horse had no particular ill-will to him! It was just a way it had! Since we grew up to manhood, we have discovered that the quadruped in question was the type of many bipeds. Some Christians have a genial disposition which falls like sunshine on all around them. Such a man was Wilberforce; we wish there were more of this class — "Gentle unto all men, apt to teach; patient." "He is a good man at bottom, but has a troublesome temper," is a character which has many representatives in the Church. And for such the apology is usually made that "it is just their way!" Their way, forsooth! and is that all that grace is doing in them? There is certainly much to annoy in this world of ours. We are engaged, for instance, in some matter of business which requires concentration of thought, when we are interrupted by a visitor whose errand is of the most commonplace description. We feel a rising irritation at the unreasonable intrusion, but the text, "Be pitiful, be courteous," forces us into complacency, and we are the better for the lesson. Or we are enjoying that very pleasant thing, a busy leisure, say on some quiet Saturday evening, when some acquaintance for whom we have no particular esteem looks in, "just to pass an hour or two, knowing that we were not likely to be engaged." This is a little provoking, no doubt, and we are apt to give our visitor a very cold shake of the hand, till, "Be pitiful, be courteous," sounds in our conscience, and we perhaps discover at the close of the evening that we have had a valuable opportunity both for giving and getting advice. Did either of those visitors intend to annoy us? No, by no means. The inconvenience in both cases arose from ourselves, and not from our visitors. How very unreasonable, therefore, would it have been in us to get angry at them, and send them away smarting under some cutting words, in all likelihood to be our enemies forever after! One advice we would give; it is the result of experience. If you really are so engaged that you cannot afford a visitor a few minutes' conversation, tell him so. Do it plainly, frankly, politely; and you may be sure that he will be thankful to you for preventing him intruding unreasonably on your time. We pass, however, to another class of cases. We remember hearing it said of the manager of a bank, who died many years ago, that he could say "no" with a better grace than most men could say "yes." He spoke what was painful in the least painful manner possible. How much does usefulness in the world depend on manner! Often have we seen a harsh manner destroy much good. And living examples there are everywhere of Christian men who would have done much good but for that abominable manner of theirs. No doubt there is an opposite extreme — a silky, whining, namby-pambyism, which in the eyes of all sensible people is despised as silly and suspicious. This, however, is much rarer than the bad manner — the icy coldness, or suspecting distance, or rudeness of the rough Christian. Some years ago a friend of ours was in an omnibus passing from the heart of our city to one of the suburbs. The omnibus stopped to pick up a passenger, who, from being welcomed by the others, was evidently well known and esteemed. Our friend admired the hearty old man, who had a kind word for everybody; and his kind words were evidently considered compliments, though spoken in broad Scotch. From some words that dropped from him, he was evidently a man of unusual talent, and a Christian. Our friend wondered who he could be, and all the more as the unknown, with the most polite attention, gave a poor servant girl some information which she desired about a house she had been told to call at. Who could this lovable yet mysterious stranger be? It was Dr. Chalmers. The genial old man had room in his large heart for sympathy and kindness to all. If we are to do good to all as we have opportunity, we must abound in kind words. Passing along the street a few days ago, we saw a little child who had tripped his foot, and fallen down. He was crying over his distress. We lifted him up, instinctively saying, "Poor little fellow!" These little words of sympathy were very cheap, but they brushed away his tears, and spread sunshine over his face again. The poorest on earth can say a kind word to his struggling brother or sister; and who can tell the good that may be done by a single kind word? It may cheer an inquiring sinner; it may send a faint believer on his way rejoicing.
Parallel VersesKJV: Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: