June 26, 2022
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
You may have heard people say that kids can get out of hand. You know. Kids jump about. Kids make lots of noise. Kids butt each other with their heads.
Yes. They butt each other with their heads. You don’t do that? Well of course you don’t. You’re not a… Oh. Right. I’m sorry.
When I say “kids” today, I’m not talking about young human beings. I’m talking about young goats. And those kids can definitely get out of hand, jumping about, making lots of noise, and butting each other with their heads.
One kid, however, was a handful even by kid standards – that is, goat kid standards. He was constantly head-butting and foot-kicking and even mouth-biting. Goat kids can get rather rough with one another, but he was rougher than any of them wanted to deal with. Pretty soon he didn’t have any friends in the pasture. If they let him close he’d butt or kick or bite.
He was sad when he got back to his mother. “Why don’t I have any friends?” he asked, and when he’d explained how he behaved with the other kids, his mother thought for a moment.
“If you want friends, you’ve got to love them,” she said.
“Love them?” he asked.
“Love them,” she said.
He thought about this until he fell asleep and thought more about it when he woke up in the morning. He bounced off to the pasture and happily shouted, “I love you!” to the other kids. Then he rushed up to them, butted one with his head, kicked another with his hooves, and bit a third with his teeth, all the while shouting, “I love you!” The herd of kids scattered and he certainly didn’t make any friends.
“Why don’t I have any friends?” he asked his mother that night.
“Didn’t you love them?” she said.
“I tried. But it didn’t work,” he said.
“Tell me what you did,” she said. He did, and when he finished, she sighed.
“Tell me this,” she said. “Do you enjoy it when another kid hits you or kicks you or bites you?”
“Well, not much,” he admitted.
“If I did that, would you believe that I loved you?” she asked.
He wasn’t sure how to answer that.
“Do you think the other kids believe you love them when you butt them and kick them and bite them?” she asked.
“No,” he admitted. “I guess they don’t.”
“Love isn’t just saying it,” said his mother. “Love is doing things because they help someone or help them be well. Love is not doing things because they hurt someone or make them feel bad. So go back tomorrow and try to love them – and this time, show it.”
I won’t claim that he did it perfectly the next day – he didn’t – but he really did show more love for the other kids than he ever had before. As the days passed, he made friends, and they loved him, too.
by Eric Anderson
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Photo of goats on Maui by Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 us, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70450192.