I am guessing that many of you think kindness is a great virtue. It is listed as a fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22. Stories about stopping to help a stranded motorist or ailing neighbor pull at our heart-strings. Frequently when we read about a natural disaster hitting a community, we also read how members of the community reach out in kindness to one another, providing meals, shelter, and cleanup activities. Kindness is something we value, but we often neglect. Why?
I think there are at least two things that stop me from being kind. One is my busyness. To express an act of kindness to an individual in need means that I need to suspend my agenda for a time and focus on the concerns of someone else. Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 is a prime example. The traveling Samaritan gave up his agenda to help the person
wounded and bleeding at the side of the road.
The second thing that holds me back is that I am unsure what to do. In a natural disaster, there are clearly identifiable needs: food, shelter, clothing, and other physical resources. But with my co-worker who is having a bad day I’m not sure what kindness looks like. Do I have the urge to give advice or fix the problem? Is that what my coworker or friend truly needs or desires?
Or could it be as simple as a listening ear, a kind word of encouragement, a cup of cold water? Have I paused to consider what I might want if I were in their situation? Do I want someone to fix my problem or simply be a kind, understanding presence? Perhaps the simplest way to act is to do unto others as I would like them to treat me.
Kindness is not so very hard, yet I struggle with it every day. I pray that God will make my heart and my schedule open to acts of kindness for others. For in acts of kindness we see the heart of God. “Whoever gives even a cup of cold water (or lemonade) to one of my children will not lose their reward.” Matthew 10:42.
When has an act of kindness touched your life deeply?
Lord Jesus, help me to perform at least one act of kindness this day for someone in need.