“’…with everlasting kindness I will have compassion for you,’says the Lord your Redeemer" Isaiah 54:8
All of us have seen them, the homeless men, women, and children standing at major intersections in our cities asking for money, food, water, and possible connections to shelter. One particular morning, I was at one of these intersections when I was approached by a homeless woman asking for change. All I had were two $20 bills that I was not trying to give away, but GOD had other plans.
As I sat waiting for the light to change, God whispered in my ear, “Give this woman your $20.” I huffed and told God that I was planning on stopping to get change so I could give her $10 instead. God responded, “I did not ask you to give her $10. I told you to give her $20.” Convicted, I quickly pulled the bill out of my wallet, rolled down my window, and gave the money to the homeless woman. She looked at the bill, and then looked at me with joy. “Thank you so much ma’am! Now I can eat breakfast and lunch!”
Kindness. It is the “quality, or state, of being gentle and considerate”, but we live in a world where “being gentle and considerate” seems to be out of the ordinary. We don’t want to be kind enough to let others move in front of us in traffic, we rudely push around others in the grocery store because they’re moving too slow, and we rip each other to shreds on social media. Being kind seems to be the one Fruit of the Spirit that all of us need, but not many of us want to employ.
The same was true during biblical times, especially for a man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. While on his journey, he was stripped naked, beaten, and left for dead. As he lay bleeding on the side a road he noticed a priest coming his way. Hope poured through his veins as he reached out to the man for assistance that never came. The priest passed him without a glance. Moments later, the bleeding man saw another person coming his way, but his prayers for help went unanswered again when the Levite passed him by.
Some time passed with the man still laying on the side of the road naked, bleeding, and waiting for help. In the distance, he saw another person coming his way, but this time he was discouraged because the priest and the Levite, two people who were supposed to act with compassion, chose not to help him. “Who’s to say this person will help me,” he probably thought to himself.
This time, however, “a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend’” (John 10:30-37).
Like the homeless people we pass every day, this man needed someone to be kind to him. Unfortunately, the people who were supposed to show him gentleness and compassion passed him by. Never deterred, God sent someone else to clean this man’s his wounds, carry him to an inn, and then pay for him to remain there until he had fully recovered.
There are times when God wants to use us to show kindness to others, but he cannot do so if we are not willing to be obedient when His request is made. This means we must be intune with God by being kind by thought, by word, and by deed.
Kindness by Thought: How you treat others is a reflection of how you treat yourself. If you’re having an issue with being kind, then take inventory on how compassionate you are with you. If you are thinking unkind words about yourself, then nothing will stop you from thinking those same thoughts about others. Pray for God to help you be more compassionate with yourself so you can be compassionate with others.
Kindness by Word: The power of life and death are in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and God wants us to speak life to each other. Nothing has the power to change a person’s demeanor more than when someone shares a kind word with them. If you struggle with being kind by word, then internalize Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer,” until the God transforms the words you speak.
Kindness by Deed: God wants us to be Good Samaritans in the lives of others. This level of kindness means being obedient when he urges you to help a stranger carry groceries to their car, mow your neighbor’s lawn if they’re sick, support a friend during a rough season in their lives, or give a homeless person money.
Here’s one final thought: There’s nothing worse than making someone feel like the kind act you are performing is a burden. That sucks all of the God intention out of the act. Remember you’re expressing kindness at the request of God, which means you are acting on His behalf, which means God wants the recipient of that kind act to see Him through your action. That won’t happen if your attitude about performing the act is foul. I learned this that morning when God prompted me to give the homeless woman my $20. Once I was convicted, then God was able to use me to be a blessing to someone else. The end result was the opposite. The moment ended up being a blessing for me, too.
Join me on Wednesday, July 27th for Goodness, my next installment in my "Living the Fruit of the Spirit" Selah Blog series.