“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:18 ESV
This is a true of story of kindness returned. A poor boy went from door to door selling his wares. Tired and hungry, he decided to ask for a meal at the next house. When a beautiful young lady opened the door, he lost his nerve and requested only a glass of water. Seeing his hungry face, she returned with a big glass of milk; which he drank slowly. When he offered to pay, she refused, saying, “My mother taught us never to take any pay for kindness.”
Years later, the same lady fell seriously ill and had to travel to a big city hospital for treatment. The gynaecologist, Dr Howard Kelly recognised her immediately as the young lady who had kindly offered him a glass of milk all those years ago, and he worked tirelessly to save her life. After a long struggle she was well enough to go home, but very apprehensive about the bill – which would cost her all her life savings to pay. To her surprise, when she received the bill, she found scrawled at the bottom – “Paid in full with a glass of milk.”
Our response to situations depend on many things – our natural temperament, upbringing and often the pressures we face. Sometimes, the crush of our multi-tasking lives can make us impatient and forgetful of the need to treat everyone kindly. In the midst of our busyness, we need to make a special effort to cultivate and practise kindness.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22 NIV
Like any fruit, kindness needs time to grow and mature in our lives. Kindness ripens when practised often, especially with tiresome people.We need to water it – with prayer and meditation on God’s word and Christ’s example. We should guard it from squirrels and birds pecking overhead – for someone’s boorish behaviour or deceitfulness can eat into the desire to be kind and spoil the fruit within our own spirits, unless we are vigilant. And we should never give up, despite any setbacks. With God’s help, we will reach our goal.
“Small kindnesses… habitually practised in our social intercourse, give a greater charm to the character than the display of great talents and accomplishments.” MA Kelty
Nothing marks out a person’s character more than kindness – displayed on a daily basis – under the grinding strain of life’s pressures and in the company of irksome people. I was very fortunate to have a mother who was unfailingly kind – even to the most irritating people. I doubt she knew how to be selfish or unkind. People remember her to this day and respect her for her kindness, and grace under pressure. It marked her out as someone who was unwilling to be tainted by the pettiness of others. “A kindhearted woman gains honour, but ruthless men gain only wealth.” Proverbs 11:16 NIV.
“Father, we thank You for Your amazing kindness shown to us each day. Help us in our struggle to be nurture this fruit in our lives. May we change and become kind to all, even our enemies. In Jesus name.”