No one knows you like your mail carrier. Floyd Martin delivered mail on the same route for decades, serving five hundred people. Over the years he delivered mail, packages, good news, bad news, junk mail, large checks, gifts, and special deliveries to all the residents on his route in Marietta, Georgia.
But that’s not all he delivered. He also delivered smiles, waves, encouraging words—and lollipops for the kids. He checked up on the neighbors and brought the newspapers to the doors of the elderly. He kept an eye open for anything that seemed amiss, and even fed treats to the neighborhood dogs and cats. When children on his route graduated from high school, he left twenty dollars in their mailbox. He wept when family members (or their pets) died and gave gentle hugs and kind words when he came across residents receiving bad news.
But it couldn’t go on forever. Floyd finally announced he was retiring. The neighborhood was distraught to lose their postman, who’d become like their pastor. On his last day, a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tagged along. At one house after another, people lined up to wish their mailman farewell. Some of the mailboxes were decorated with flowers, balloons, and signs. After Floyd delivered his last piece of mail, the neighborhood threw a block party for him, where everyone erupted in cheers and tears.
But the story has an incredible . . . well, postscript. As neighbors began sharing stories about Floyd on social media, someone mentioned that the postman once said he’d like to visit Hawaii. The tweets and posts went viral, and within a week over $32,000 came in from hundreds of people all over the country—from residents, former residents, families, and total strangers. Delta Airlines even stepped in and offered to provide the flights.
Floyd Martin’s words to his “flock” were: “Thank you for caring about me. We’ve gone through good times and bad times together. . . . You were there when I needed you, even if you didn’t know it. . . . I love you guys. I say that, I mean it. And that’s what the world needs more of now—is love and caring and compassion and taking care of one another.”1
Floyd Martin is right. His true story sums up exactly the kind of community and world we need right now.
My children—and maybe yours—grew up watching a Presbyterian minister named Fred Rogers whose television program was about such a community. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood gave children a model of what’s been called “radical kindness.” The show’s producer, Margy Whitmer, said the success of the show was a bit of a mystery to everyone. “You take all the elements that make good television,” she said, “you do the exact opposite, you have Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”2
That’s just like brotherly kindness! You take everything discouraging you see around you every day—the drama, the arguing, the passions, the anger, the misunderstandings, the tension—and you do exactly the opposite. Wouldn’t you want to live in a neighborhood like that?
Peter did. He believed the church should be that kind of neighborhood. Christian homes should be that way too. So Peter included brotherly kindness in his list of crucial qualities.
As we’ve learned, Peter opened his final letter by sharing that God has given us everything we need for a godly life through His precious promises—but we must put this gift to use. We have to diligently work on certain critical traits that define a truly Christlike life. So far we’ve looked at diligence, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, and godliness. Now we come to brotherly kindness. Peter said, “[Add] to godliness brotherly kindness” (2 Peter 1:7).
The word Peter used in his original language of Greek was philadelphia. I’m sure you recognize that word because it’s the name of the city where America was born. William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, wanted to establish a city that was characterized by this biblical trait. To this day, Philadelphia’s nickname is “City of Brotherly Love.” Whether or not it lives up to that name is for others to decide. But Peter was telling us that as followers of Christ we should live up to that name. We must work hard to add to our godliness the quality of brotherly kindness.
David Jeremiah, Everything You Need: 8 Essential Steps to a Life of Confidence in the Promises of God (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2019).
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