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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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USING KINDNESS AS A COVERUP

Sam Levenson reminds us that sometimes things — and people — are not really what they seem to be. He writes, "While parking late at night, you slightly scrape the side of a Porsche. You are certain no one else is aware of what happened. The damage is minor and would be covered by insurance. Would you leave a note? I read not long ago about a fellow who really did that, except people were watching. And he took out a piece of paper and wrote on it, ‘A number of people around me think I'm leaving you a note that includes my address, but I'm not.' " (quoted by Charles Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, p 145). This guy was a fake and a fraud, and so was his kindness. He used kindness to cover deceit and dishonesty.

Can kindness be used as a cover-up by unkind people? King Solomon was an astute observer of human nature. Much of what he learned from watching human beings is recorded in Proverbs. Proverbs 26:24-26 lets us know that Solomon had seen a number of attempted "cover-ups" in his own day. Here is what it says: "He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself; when he speaks kindly, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly." Decades ago "The Temptations" warned us in a song entitled Smiling Faces that a smile is sometimes covering up a snarl: "Smiling faces, smiling faces, sometimes they don't tell the truth. . . .Smiling faces, smiling faces, tell lies, and I got truth. . . .Beware of the handshake that hides the snake. . . .Don 't let the handshake and the smile fool ya'. " The words of Solomon's proverbs and the lyrics of this song remind us that a smile on the face may be covering a smirk in the heart. A heart full of hatred and spite can be covered up with a handshake and a smile and a few friendly words. A veneer of kindness may be covering up a thick layer of malice and ill will. Abraham Lincoln was right when he said that we may fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but we cannot fool all of the people all of the time. Comedian Rita Rudner humorously reminds us that not everybody is fooled when we seek to deceive. She said, "I work for myself, which is fun. Except for when I call in sick — I know I'm lying." God knows, too, and He knows whether kindness comes from a heart that is sincere or one that is sinister. Smiles are super unless they hide fangs; a handshake is great, unless it hides a snake of hatred and contempt. In a world where people are not always what they seem to be, God still calls His people to get real.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ