My dog, Sherman, loves to go to the park. Not for exercise – he has arthritis and doesn’t move very far or very fast. Actually, he loves to socialize and get affection from as many people as he can. He truly loves every person, dog, cat, rabbit…there just isn’t a mean bone in his body.
One evening the park was weirdly empty and he wasn’t happy. There were no other dogs to greet or humans to give him adoration and attention. On a whim, we drove to a nearby park/youth sports complex where a couple of baseball games were in action. The concession stand was grilling so I decided to treat us to dinner.
We walked toward the concession stand and said hello to everyone we passed. We got a few forced smiles and not much else in return. Sherman waited for someone…anyone, to pet him. But no takers. As we paid for our burgers, I mentioned how wonderful everything smelled and how we thought it would be fun to skip the usual fast food and support local youth baseball. The reaction was “Thanks” and a hasty retreat. I dressed my sandwich, removed the bun from Sherman’s burger, and we sat on a bench near the grill to eat.
“I’ll bet he doesn’t miss any meals” was the comment directed at my sturdy English Bulldog. I laughed and said, “He certainly doesn’t” and… crickets. Before I could say anything else they turned away. At this point I started to feel uncomfortable; as if we were unwelcome outsiders. We ate quickly and left.
Later, as I consoled my sad pup, I wondered why we were met with such indifference. What would it have cost for someone there to just be nice to us? We were already willing to spend our money in support of their youth baseball program. We were trying to be friendly and we were met with disinterest. Maybe they were distracted. Maybe they thought we were weird. But maybe, just maybe, they would have gained some additional income and support from a former baseball mom and a loveable dog who really, really loves grilled meat.
Paul wrote in Colossians 4 to “be wise in the way you act toward outsiders,” making the most of opportunities to point others toward Jesus. In Ephesians 4, Jesus literally commands us to be kind to one another. Not being mean isn’t enough. Just. Be. Nice.
How will you be nice today?
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34 KJV