by Annette Stafford
Kindness - Example of Kindness
The implication of showing and giving kindness is far reaching.
In an age, where society suffers psychological malaise from the scourge of violence and disharmony, acts of kindness really stand out.
Interestingly, research shows that children don't have to be trained to be kind. Kindness can be observed in action in children from a very early age. A baby, hearing another cry, will often join in. From what researchers can establish, this response appears not to be from a reaction of distress, but rather as an expression of sympathy for the other baby. Researchers hypothesise that the 'sing along' is to let the other baby know they have company and support. It is also a common practice for small children to comfort a parent or another child who they perceive to be distressed, by making appropriate sounds and gestures. Alfie Kohn, author of 'The Brighter Side of Nature' tells us,(and I quote) "As the child develops the capacity for purposive behaviour, in the period between eighteen and twenty-four months, her response to distress will become more active: patting the head, fetching a toy, offering verbal expressions of sympathy, finding an adult to help, and so forth. The ability to be of assistance seems to build on a pre-existing sense of concern and responsibility for others. It has also been known for a child to offer it's feeding bottle to a crying mother.
As the child's personality develops, he/she finds ways and means to be less vulnerable and defenceless to the environment. It is not uncommon during this period for the child to become partly separated from its essence (with a corresponding loss of identity). It is therefore important that the child be encouraged to maintain the 'gift' of kindness.
There is much opportunity all around us, all the time to show acts of kindness to others. This doesn't just mean on the odd occasion in our lives when we might show sympathy to someone else or be kind to someone who has been kind to us. This can be an integral part of each and every day we live in this world where we are afforded many opportunities to do so. It's a great way for us to show our loyalty to God by embodying in our behaviour the principle of His grace and mercy to us.
We can express to others basic kindnesses by being more caring, loving, attentive, courteous, complimentary, supportive and by even just making eye contact and smiling. These things can make a big difference to those around us. We have no idea what difficulties others may be experiencing. There are many lonely people in our world in need of some warmth and kindness and there are many people that suffer because the people who have hurt them deeply seem to feel no guilt whatsoever for what they have done.
We can all relate to suffering and it is therefore not difficult for us to demonstrate kindness and compassion to those around us. Troubles and pain do not discriminate - they come to old and young, rich and poor, righteous and unrighteous because the sin of this world knows no boundaries.
In fact there's enough opportunity for all of us here to keep genuinely busy for the rest of our lives demonstrating to those who are suffering the goodness of extending kindnesses.
Here's a true story which I found very interesting on the net and one that I'd like to share with you.
Mary Menth Andersen was 31 years old and had just married Norwegian Dag Andersen. She was looking forward to starting a new life in Norway with him. But first she had to get all of her belongings from the US across to Norway. The date was November 2nd, 1988.
At the airport in Miami things were hectic as usual, with long lines at the check-in counters. When it was finally Mary's turn and she had placed her luggage on the baggage line, she got the message that crushed her bubbling feeling of happiness.
"You'll have to pay a $103 surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway," the man behind the counter said.
Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.
"I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions", says Mary.
Although she explained the situation to the man behind the counter, he showed no signs of mercy.
"I started to cry, tears were pouring down my face and I had no idea what to do. Then I heard a gentle and friendly voice behind me saying, 'That's OK, I'll pay for her'."
Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.
"He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was: Who is this man?"
Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.
"He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants," says Mary.
She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.
The piece of paper said 'Barack Obama' and his address in Kansas was where his mother lived. Mary carried the slip of paper around in her wallet for years, before it was thrown out.
"He was my knight in shining armor!" says Mary, smiling.
She paid the $103 back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.
(1 Corinthians 13:4) "Love is Kind" - Everyone of us humans has the ability to be kind; however, the kindness that springs from the rule of God's love in the Christian heart is different.
A unique quality of Christian kindness is the act of doing well to one's enemies. Anyone can be kind to those who are kind to them but kindness in the face of provocation, kindness in return for hostility that is the Biblical fruit of the Spirit at its best. This requires total surrender of oneself for others, self denial for the sake of others and turning away from all vengeance, all self-assertion in order to take part in the sorrows and trials of others.
Jesus says, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that, And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:32-36).
Because we are all selfish sinners it doesn't come naturally to be kind to our enemies however, if we let God's love rule our hearts, then nothing is impossible. The Bible tells of the virtues of kindness, sympathy, compassion, and brotherly love and in this world we will never lack opportunities to practice the great spirit that Peter speaks of.
God's greatness is seen in His restraint. We need to follow His example. Provocation does not justify rudeness in any way if we have God's Law in our Heart. Kindness is the nuts and bolts of the gospel in action. "A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" John 12:34-35
Whenever an opportunity arises to do an act of kindness, as Christians we should be responsive to it. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all . . ." (Galatians 6:10).
There are many great challenges placed upon us when we profess to be Christian. We must tread where no one else in this world would ever think to go. Each day we should search for opportunities that allow us to demonstrate compassion, sympathy and love because these are the true expression of the gospel spirit. I know that I'm not suited to going away to the mission fields but this can be the calling for me -- and for you -- if we would be faithful followers of Christ!
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