Birthday Wishes from a Complete Stranger

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On my birthday, which was yesterday, nearly 100 of my Facebook friends posted birthday wishes on my wall. This year, one post in particular made my day:

Happy Birthday, Jeff from a complete stranger. Saw this on Keith’s wall and couldn’t resist. God’s blessings!

I enjoy social media, but one aspect of it I lament is the tone that many take with one another in discussion threads. From the perceived safety of our computers we are often quick to hurl personal insults and attacks on others, especially when we disagree with them on the issue of the day. Perhaps that is why I found this particular birthday greeting so refreshing that it still makes me smile every time I read it.

Smile at a stranger

Smile at a stranger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It begs this question: what if each of us resolved to deal with everybody we meet, even complete strangers, with an attitude of love? What if we greet everyone with a smile? What if we consider that the person who most recently snarled at us or cut us off on the roadway may be having a particularly bad day or dealing with a problem of which we have no idea? What if, instead of returning snarl for snarl, we return a smile or a pleasant word? If each of us resolved to address our world in this manner, what would be the result over the long term?

There is Biblical precedent for this in both the Old and New Testaments:

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18)

(Jesus said) “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

We were created to be in relationship with God and with one another. We are empowered to choose how we will relate to those around us, both in person and online. What would happen if each of us approached our world with a smile? What would happen if we all resolved to send birthday greetings to complete strangers? Something to think about…

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