“…So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
Do you know the story of when Gandhi stepped aboard a train at which point one of his shoes slipped off his foot and landed on the track? He was unable to retrieve it as the train was moving away. To the amazement of his companions, Gandhi calmly took off his other shoe and threw it back along the track to land close to the first. He was asked by a fellow passenger why on earth would he would do such a thing, Gandhi smiled and said, “The poor man who finds the shoe lying on the track will now have a pair he can use!”
What might you call a decision like Gandhi’s? I would call it “kindness.” Kindness: that gentle fruit of the Spirit that serves the need of the other before the need of the one offering the service.
What do you think of when you think of the word kind? Perhaps a better question is who do you think of when you think of the word kind? For kindness comes in all manner of ways–for some it is an effort (Gandhi had to consciously make the decision to toss his remaining shoe); for others it is quite natural, as if they are breathing. Either way, I’ll take it!
The word of Paul to the Romans is a reminder that kindness is something God wants His children to possess and express. Why? Because we have been granted kindness by God for all our foolishness and missteps. As God has shed His kindness upon us, we should—as a result of that gift—repent of anything that prevents us from doing the same to those we encounter. From passing it on. John writes, “We love because God first loved us…” (I John 4:19) Here, Paul is saying we should be kind because God was first kind to us. That's about all there is to it.
Now if I am honest, kindness does not always come easy. I get caught in traffic on the 610 Loop. I get in the long line at the grocery when the woman up front pulls out her coupons and checkbook just to make my wait a little longer. The nurse at my doctor’s office puts me on the phone for the third time and I need to get on with my day. Yet, did you notice the ‘generator’ of that frustration of my kindness? “I!” I get caught in traffic. I get in the long line… and I need… and so it goes.
Often, the great weight that resists the lightness of kindness is me. So, then, we need to allow God’s Spirit to continue to temper our selfishness. William Wordsworth’s little verse says it well:
“That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and love.”
I think it is fair to say, one of the COVID curses has been our inability to offer the usual forms of kindness which we all need–the mask covers the smile, social distancing resists the handshake and fear of infection has all but eliminated a good old hug.
Yet, don’t let the bug win: don’t let yourself get in the way of the call to kindness. You can still speak a soft word, make that needed phone call and open a door to let someone go before you. Do you recall what the prophet Micah proclaimed? “…what does the Lord require of you… but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Need another reason? I love this little verse I found not too long ago–author unknown…
“I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight,
That to somebody’s need made me blind:
But I never have yet
Felt a twinge of regret,
For being a little too kind.”
A prayer for today:
Lord in little things and large, help me be kind.
Grant me a measure of Your Spirit,
...such that when it would be easier to pull in than pour out…
that I may remember Your many kindnesses to me,
such that together, we may overcome myself,
that I may be the word, the look, the touch, of kindness…
that gently kisses those You send my way.