Patrick Swayze starred in a movie entitled Texas Roadhouse in 1989. He portrayed a young man by the name of Dalton, a cooler in a rowdy honkytonk known for its nightly bar fights. A cooler is the one who manages and oversees the bouncers. During his training of the bouncers Dalton had three basic rules the last of which is, always be nice. His instructions to them went something like this, “if someone calls you a name, I want you to be nice. If they cuss you out, be nice. If you have to put him out, ask him to walk, but be nice. If he won’t walk, walk him, but be nice. If he can’t walk, get help, and you’ll both be nice. You will be nice until it’s time to not be nice, and I’ll tell you when that is. Remember, it’s a job. It’s nothing personal.”
I think the Christian community could benefit from some of those honkytonk instructions. After all, kindness is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22 NIV). Retaliating against those who have mistreated or harmed us in some way is as easy as pie whereas exercising restraint can take herculean effort at times. Just imagine the Holy Spirit conducting a one on one training on the expected demeanor and decorum of the body of Christ. Here is what He might whisper in your ear; When that person takes the parking space for which you have been patiently waiting the last five minutes, be nice. When the salesperson rudely pops her gum, and gives you the “stank” face, be nice. When someone steps on your toes in the elevator, looks you up and down but doesn’t apologize, you can say something, but be nice. If someone arrives twenty minutes late for church and wanting to sit on one of the rows closest to the front taps you on the shoulder in the midst of intense worship, you may have to say a quick silent prayer, but be nice. The one thing we as Christians don’t want to do is ruin the possibility to witness to the unsaved and unchurched. You cannot have a swearing match or heated name calling argument with someone then turn around and talk about Jesus, they will neither listen to you nor take you seriously. Of course, there are times when mistreatment, abuse and injustice needs to be addressed but we must follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. He will help us choose our battles wisely and tell us what to say and how to say. He is the only one we should allow to tell us when it’s no longer time to be nice, just like Dalton did for the bouncers in Texas Roadhouse.