My favorite convenience store chain is Wawa – they are mostly found in the Mid-Atlantic states and Florida. They have the best coffee and hoagies! The thing I like most about them has nothing to do with food – it is the friendly atmosphere. One can expect to be greeted with a cheerful hello and a stranger holding the door for you and friendly conversation with other customers around the coffee prep station. It is not unusual for one person to buy the coffee of the next at the register. The funny thing, it is completely out of character for the region – one doesn’t expect this level of friendliness in the north – especially in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. It doesn’t matter which one you hit – the culture of Wawa is dominant; there is even a book about it!
Simple acts of kindness are contagious!
The Wawa culture is one example of a concept that transcends time and culture: The Golden Rule. For most, the idea is simple – treat others the way you’d like to be treated. Help when it is needed, be kind, and so on.
Jesus takes the concept a step deeper. You may notice our verse this week starts with “so” – some translations have “therefore.” Jesus is inviting us to respond to the kindness we have already received from God: forgive those who have wronged you, avoid selfishness, do not judge others, give with happiness.
Jesus is inviting us to demonstrate the kingdom of heaven while here in this world!
Carrying this out is not always easy. Holding the door for someone and offering a smile is a great start. Forgiving or providing for someone in need – that’s hard! It means we need to put someone else’s needs ahead of our own. Jesus put our needs ahead of his own in a big way. He only asks us to give as we have been given. Responding to this invitation will change you and them – plus it carries forward for other to witness.
Who can you help or forgive? It could have a lasting impact.