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FAITHFUL LIVING Showing kindness fills our lives with sunshine
If you stop to be kind,
you must swerve often from your path.
--Mary Webb, Precious Band (1924)
If you have peeked in on Faithful Living of late you know that we have taken the last few weeks to consider the Fruit of the Spirit, mentioned by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament book of Galatians. These fruits, or the observable by-products of living for God, are virtuous and prized behaviors. They are as worthy today as they were when Paul first wrote about them in A.D. 49.
While the average American would be hard pressed to list all nine of these virtues, I suggest they should not be forgotten. In fact, if we memorize them and imprint them across our hearts, we are far more likely to incorporate them into our daily lives. So before we take a look at the fifth fruit, which is kindness, let us review the entire list and set them to memory: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
When I think about being kind I am immediately reminded of my familys experience living in the Washington, D.C. area. The year was 1993 and my husband Matt had been assigned to work in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, for Installations and the Environment. Housed in an office building in Crystal City, Virginia, Matt donned a suit and tie each morning, boarded the metro train, and walked the short remaining distance to his office. His window to the world looked out upon a busy street and as Matt went about his work, he and his co-workers began to notice a surprising pattern. Day after day the same men appeared on this busy intersection to ask for handouts. So routine were their appearances the Navy employees began assigning names to these fellows and charting their schedules. When they began observing the same car dropping off and picking up this team of beggars at regular intervals, they realized they were witnessing a highly organized operation, raking in what they estimated to be $25 an hour of tax free cash.
Does such an experience deter me from helping those in need of genuine kindness, no matter the form? Not in the least, for we must resist the temptation to allow events, however frustrating, to deter us from doing what God reveals as right and good. When one looks up scripture associated with Gods view of how people are to act in kindness, we discover that we are encouraged to give to the hungry and the oppressed (see Isaiah 58:10). Yet, we must be wise and careful with our giving. We must resist the temptation to simply throw a buck or two in someones direction or allow ourselves to get so jaded that we stop giving altogether. Instead we are encouraged to show kindness by identifying ways we can directly involve ourselves. In doing so God promises that the gloom we may be privately feeling will be lifted.
The most famous story related to an act of kindness in the Bible is the story Jesus tells of a Samaritan man who delayed his journey to help a stripped and beaten man, left to die along the roadside from Jerusalem to Jericho. To this very day when we speak of "Good Samaritans," we are referencing this amazing example of kindness and the depth we should go when being kind.
We first learn that others journeyed by the victim and decided not to get involved. The Samaritan, on the other hand, was so moved by the sight of a dying man that he felt compassion and designed a plan in response. It was not a simple, Ill pray for you! kind of plan, a When I get to town Ill send an emergency crew. Hope you're still alive by then! kind of plan, either. This man realized that it was his moment to act in a thorough and love-filled way.
And so he bound the victims wounds, placed him on a donkey and took him to town. He cared for him overnight in a rented room, paid ahead for additional care, and promised the innkeeper that any additional expenses incurred would be covered when he returned.
Talk about going out of your way, for no reason other than to demonstrate kindness and love for another human being. Talk about grasping the idea that you can be an important player in Gods grand scheme of things and be blessed in the experience.
God says kindness will bring sunshine into our lives. May the sun shine brightly over Western Washington this week!
Joan Bay Klope
360-675-3817 or 360-941-5057