Not just for Valentine’s Day

                What is one of the kindest things someone has ever done for you?

                When I thought about this recently, one of the first things that came to mind was when I suffered a significant head injury several years ago. A few weeks into my recovery, a friend called to say she wanted to clean my house.

“I’ll bring the cleaning supplies,” she stated emphatically, “You won’t have to do a thing.”

                I reluctantly accepted her offer, but embarrassed at the prospect of her seeing my messy house, I nearly killed myself straightening up before she arrived. Obviously sensing this, she came in, smiled and “ordered” me to take a nap. She left me with a sparkling house three hours later.

                I asked my sister this same question.

“When I first moved to South Florida,” she told me, “my friend Stephanie sent me a hand-written letter in the mail every single week for a year!”

                It seems some people are just naturally kind and generous with their time and efforts. Obvious to Stephanie’s friends, God has given her the gift of encouragement and compassion. Stephanie seems to easily give, encourage and show acts of thoughtfulness.

                If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. … And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly (Romans 12:8).

                For others of us, it takes more emotional effort to express kindness and generosity. But regardless of which type of “giver” we each are, God clearly tells each of us to, simply, be kind!

Be kind to each other, tenderhearted … (Ephesians 4:32).

              I grew up thinking that this verse referred to acting and speaking kindly to those who came across my path. But through the examples of others, I’ve learned that kindness means much more. It often involves intentional and significant uses of our time and resources. For Christians, investing in others is an example to the world of Christ’s sacrificial love.

Informal survey

                I took this idea of kindness one step further and e-mailed several women, asking my key question: What is one of the kindest things someone has ever done for you?

                The immediate responses were overwhelming – with one common thread running through each of them: Kindness requires time and sacrifice from the giver.

                My co-worker, Patty, put it simply: “Sometimes kindness is work.”

                When Patty’s first daughter was born, they had only one car, and her husband worked from dawn till late at night – six days a week.

“I was trapped in the house all day, every day,” Patty said.

                A friend, understanding Patty’s very real need for fellowship, went out of her way to drive her to and from a weekly Bible study.

“That friendship and that Bible study got me through a difficult transition time in my life,” Patty recalls.

                Dawn, a young mom, shared that when her mother was moving across town, ladies from Dawn’s church helped clean, pack and move her belongings.

“They came on a beautiful Saturday morning and helped me for hours on end. … I really didn’t know how I was going to be able to do it on my own. God showed me that I was not alone and neither was my mom.”

                Stephanie also told me about her thoughtful friends: “I was feeling really apprehensive about an upcoming mission trip. … A friend contacted all the people who know and love me best, and asked each of them to write me a note of encouragement to open while I was in Bangkok. Those notes helped me through some difficult moments during my trip.”

                Melody answered my question by telling about a time when she was seriously ill.

“My younger sister went out of her way to come to my home and take care of me. She kept putting cool washcloths on my head to bring my temperature down.”

                Melody has never forgotten the impact of this practical act of care and compassion.

                Lori shared about a friend’s compassion after she and her husband learned they would need to travel out of state for their daughter’s medical care. With no extra money for the trip, they prayed for God’s confirmation that this was the right timing.

“The next morning, I ran into a friend. She slipped me an envelope, and I tucked it in my purse. Later, when I opened it, I found enough money to pay for our flight!”

                One definition of kindness reads, “The quality of being warmhearted, considerate, humane and sympathetic.”

                And that’s exactly what all these women have demonstrated, They’ve encouraged. They’ve given. They’ve shown generosity with their time and resources. Their kindness towards others have been a practical outpouring of Christ’s love.

                So, what is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you? And … what expression of kindness have you recently showered on someone?

                This month, as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, let’s start a year-long quest of living a life filled with intentional and lavish kindness.

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart (Proverbs 3:3).

Ruth Pirrie can be reached at [email protected].

 

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