Kindness (Zacharias T. Fomum)
We can say that kindness is help given out of compassion to the needy who are not our legal obligation. It is motivated by compassion.
If mercy, as we have just treated it, applies to people who have sinned, we see kindness as mercy to people who are in need. They do not have to be in need of pardon. They may be in need of spiritual or material things and their need is not necessarily the result of some evil that they have done.
As l think of kindness the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible comes into my mind as a good example. It runs thus,
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to the place where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back’” (Luke 10:30-35).
The man who fell among thieves did not do anything to precipitate the evil that befell him. It could have been anyone going on a normal journey. He fell into the wrong hands and lost all, including his health. No one could blame him. As he lay there, he needed help very badly. No one, however, was obliged to help him. In fact, anyone who decided to help him stood the risk of getting into the same trouble into which he had gotten. The priest and the Levite passed by and went away quickly for safety to make it clear that kindness, as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, is not something that is possessed by religious men outside of vital fellowship with the Lord.
The Good Samaritan saw him and had compassion on him and went to his aid. He spent of his time, oil and wine, and walked so that this person might have a ride on the horse. He took the risk of being equally attacked, robbed, beaten and even killed by the thieves, and sacrificed his convenience and comfort for a stranger. In the inn, he took care of him and when he had to leave the next day, he paid for his care and committed himself to bear any further financial expenditures on the man.
We can say that kindness is help given out of compassion to the needy who are not our legal obligation. It is motivated by compassion. The person sees the others in need and the need moves his heart to do something about it that is costly and personal.
l have seen people give away things in a very impersonal way. l do not consider this kindness. l have seen people give money to the poor, the blind, the leprous, all in a kind of condescending way that did not even give one word of love and care for the person. l have seen them throw gifts at these needy people to ease their consciences. This is not kindness. l have personally received cold, expensive gifts that have brought things but nothing of the giver and these have not been a blessing at all.
Kindness results from the meeting of two factors: A person in need and a compassionate heart.
The need could be spiritual. The Bible says,
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy” (Titus 3:3-5).
The person could be lonely and the kindness he needs is love, care or concern. Such kindness, manifested in constant visits, loving letters, gifts of flowers, may reach out to depths that a million theoretical sermons could not reach.
These acts, nevertheless, must flow out of a heart that accepts the person and loves him as he is. l will never forget a student who was very talkative in one of the Universities l attended. He was often found with a group of noisy students and gave the impression of being surrounded by friends. One day, l visited him in his room. l was surprised when he told me that l was the first person to enter his room in three months. He was very lonely and felt totally unloved. It was near the end of term and he never returned to the University the next term. Maybe he was too lonely to come back. l felt terrible. l and all the believers in the University had let him down and failed the Lord. Had we been a bit more caring, more compassionate and kinder, we might have reached out to him, saved him from academic and personal frustration and perhaps won him for the King of glory.
How many such students are there in our Universities and colleges? How many of them live next to our houses and apartments? Do you know your neighbours and have you shown kindness to them?
It rends my heart to know that even in Local Assemblies that have known the move of God’s gracious Holy Spirit, kindness in depth is often lacking. How many are lonely in our Assemblies? Where is our kindness being manifested? How many broken hearts are we mending? l was once told a story of a child of about five years of age who suddenly asked her mother, “Mummy, what does God do the whole day?” The question was embarrassing as the mother did not know the answer, so she told her to go out and play with her friends. She dutifully went out and played for a little while, but soon she was back and again asked, “Mummy, what does God spend the whole day doing?” The mother again said, “Have this cake. Go and eat it with your friends.” She gladly took the cake and went outside to her friends, and this time the mother prayed that God should give her the right answer. He did, for when the daughter came back to ask her question for the third time, the answer was available and she replied, “God spends the whole day mending broken hearts and broken lives.”
If God does that (and l believe that God is in this mending business today among believers as He is in the manufacturing business among unbelievers), then to fail to mend broken hearts and broken lives are to fail to imitate God.
It is too easy to give correct answers, but loving-kindness, the flow of a compassion-filled heart, will produce results that correct doctrines will not be able to produce.
Compassionate, tender-hearted people are in short supply today. We have too many whose words, even when spoken in low tones, drive a sword through a listening heart. The gifts of such people will not satisfy.
May God raise up in His Church kind people, and may their kindness include the total giving of themselves away and then their things may follow. Such a life, however, is risky. Kindness is a risky business. If you follow kindness, if you are kind out of compassion and because God has worked out the tender-heartedness of His Son in you, you will often be hurt. You will be misunderstood. You will be hurt and you may be betrayed. You will bleed and you may be plundered.
Do you fear any of these things? Don’t. That is what the Lord went through, and, in going through them, you will grow increasingly into His likeness, and what more can you want?
“Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, the only God, our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.”
Praise the Lord!!!
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