On Kindness

I’ve been thinking about the quality of KINDNESS as it has surfaced in a number of different books I’ve been reading lately. I mentioned in my last post that it was a theme in many of Nevil Shute’s books. Amy Carmichael, in Thou Givest…They Gather, which I am reading through slowly this year, expands on what kindness looks like. She quotes Psalm 119: 65 & 66:

‘Thou hast wrought kindly with thy servant, o Lord, according to thy word.
TEACH ME kindness, and instruction, and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.’

Kindness is not always a natural inclination for many of us, so we have to learn how to manifest it in our everyday lives. She links kindness with patience or ‘good temper,’ which I think is a helpful definition. Welcoming interruptions, especially when they don’t seem to matter nearly so much as what we are doing at the moment is one way of practicing kindness…
‘Can we imagine our Lord Jesus ever being rude?’

“Anoint mine eyes with eye-salve, mighty Saviour,
As through this wonder-world of Thine I stray,
Let nought in my soul’s gesture or behaviour
Obstruct sweet glimpses of Thyself today.”

‘If we pray that prayer truly, we shall not by little acts of careless rudeness, make it harder for others to see the Lord Jesus.’

“She doeth little kindnesses that most leave undone or despise.”

Little kindnesses may seem insignificant, too small, but to someone at any given time they may be just what they need to keep hanging on. Is anything small that helps to make another happy?
Going the second mile has been described as “the loving little extra things that need not be done, but which Love loves to do, just because it loves.”

William Barclay also focusses on kindness and points out that many humble tasks are a divine commission.

‘God sends every individual into the world with a part to play in his purpose. It may be a big part or it may be a small part…
It may be one about which everyone will know and which history will remember, or it may be one about which no one will ever hear; but in either case it is a task for God. The great Indian poet and philosopher Tagore has a poem, ‘The Gardener’, which goes like this:

At midnight the would-be ascetic announced:
“This is the time to give up my home and seek for God.
Ah, who has held me so long in delusion here?”
God whispered, “I,” but the ears of the man were stopped.
With a baby asleep at her breast lay his wife, peacefully sleeping on one side of the bed.
The man said, “Who are ye that have fooled me so long?”
The voice said again, “They are God,” but he heard it not.
The baby cried out in its dream, nestling close to its mother.
God commanded, “Stop, fool, leave not thy home,”
but still he heard not.
God sighed and complained, “Why does my servant
wander to seek me, forsaking me?”

For many of us our God-given task will simply be to make one or two people happy in the little circle of those most dear to us – even my four-year-old grandson in the photo at the top of this post has a God-given task – showing kindness to his little brother. 🙂

2 thoughts on “On Kindness

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