Uniquely Kind

Unique means “one of a kind.” Today is your opportunity to be the one of a kind person someone will meet. Will you be unique with your kindness?

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Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. ~Ephesians 4:32

Remember to, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. ~Colossians 3:12

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Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.
~Mother Teresa

His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord!  ~Psalm 117:2

Are You Garden Wise?

kindnessWhen I posted to this blog yesterday, I wrote a little bit about my garden.  Since I made that post, I’ve thought about the first garden and Adam the first farmer: “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it (Genesis 2:15.)”

Gardens and farmers are metaphors that are found throughout the Bible. In Galatians 6 the metaphor of farming is expressed in the principle of sowing and reaping.  People often interpret Paul’s words in a negative context; however, they should also be considered from a positive perspective as well:

Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith (Galatians. 6:7-10).”

St. Basil may have been thinking about these verses when he said: “He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

Taking the words of Paul to heart and applying the saintly advice of Basil, what type of seeds have you been sowing and what kind of harvest have you been reaping?

The importance of sowing seeds of kindness is found in a comment made by Leo Buscaglia: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Kindness is a form of communication that is not limited by ethnic or social barriers. It is a language that even the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

I encourage you to make a difference in the life of someone today—give them the gift of kindness. “Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” ~Mother Teresa

The Good Samaritan: Pay Day Some Day

Good SamaritanWhile I was doing a little reading last night, I found my way to Proverbs 19:17: “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lordand he will repay him for his deed (ESV).”  The Message provides this rendering of that verse:  “Mercy to the needy is a loan to God,and God pays back those loans in full.”

After reading this verse, a couple of questions came to my mind:

  • If God repays those who are generous to the poor, how does he reward those who are miserly?
  • Is this verse to be interpreted in just a physical sense or is their also a spiritual significance as in the poverty of the nonbeliever?

My musing led me to think about how this verse could be applied to the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.  In this story a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho was robbed and left badly beaten.  This man was seen by three different individuals:

  • The thieves saw him and said:  “What’s yours is ours, so we’ll just take it.”
  • The priest saw him and said:  “What’s mine is mine, and I won’t share it.”
  • The Samaritan said:  “What’s mine is God’s, so I’ll bless you with it.”

Which of these three individuals embraced the principle of Proverbs 19:17? Which one of the them showed mercy, exhibited kindness, and manifested generosity?  How do you respond when you see someone in need?

Whoever is kind to the poor is lending to the Lord
    the benefit of his gift will return to him in abundance.

Proverbs 19:17 (ISV).

Are You A Giver or a Getter?

Helping Hands against blue sky

The life of some people can be defined by their focus on giving or getting:

  • Givers ask: What can I do to help you?
  • Getters ask: What can you do to help me?

When I think of giving and getting, I think of the words of two wise men:

  • President Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”
  • Solomon: “A giving person will receive much in return, and someone who gives water will also receive the water he needs (Proverbs 11:25).”

Think about the people you know.  Are there some among that crowd that sap you of strength due to the demands they make?  Are there others who are a delight to be around because they refresh and re-energize you?

This was the topic of discussion when Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth:

In the midst of all that has happened, though it has been difficult, we are comforted and encouraged. When we saw the relief and joy on Titus’s face, we celebrated even more because his spirit had been totally refreshed by you. Now if I have bragged in the past about you to Titus, I have nothing to be ashamed of. Just as we’ve spoken the whole truth to you, I’m glad to know that our boasts to Titus about you have proven true as well.  His love for you overflows even more as he recalls your obedience and how you respectfully and somewhat nervously, with fear and trembling, took him in.  I have great joy now because I have great confidence in you.                     ~2 Corinthians 7:13-16

Titus isn’t the only person who has been refreshed by a friend.  Paul said that Philemon was a source of joy to him: “Because you are out there encouraging and reviving the hearts of fellow saints with such love, this brings great joy and comfort to me (Philemon 7).”

Think of today as your day to be the giver who makes a difference in the life of another.  Give someone an encouraging word; share an act of kindness; and, revive someone who is struggling through life.

The Five Virtues of Team Jesus

team-jesus-neon-limeTurn on your TV any Sunday afternoon during football season and you’ll see fervent and ardent fans who are afflicted with a severe case of monomania.  They have willingly abdicated their Monday through Friday reputation; morphed into Sunday fanatics; and clothed themselves in the colors of their favorite team.

Paul recognized the importance of team loyalty and spoke of being identified with Christ.  Just as a loyal fan shows his allegiance by wearing the team colors, you can do the same when you, “Clothe yourself with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12).”

To be fashionably attired, I suggest you clothe yourself in the virtues Paul mentioned:

  • Mercy is not giving the punishment or judgment that is deserved. Just as a heart is essential for life, mercy pumps the lifeblood into kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
  • A quote by Henry James emphasizes the importance of kindness: “Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer must have been thinking of kindness when he wrote:  “We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”

  • In a time when people clothe themselves in rudeness and crudeness, humility is seen as a tattered rag that’s destined for the second-hand store. Humility is the idea of lowliness of mind in contrast to high-minded narcissism, and it’s seen in the life of the falsely accused who is more concerned with the truth than he is with his ego or reputation.
  •  A good definition of gentleness is found in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians: “We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.  So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.”
  • Patience is the ability to endure hardships, discomfort, and persecution without complaint. In Romans 5, Paul said:  “We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces patient endurance, and this endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.  This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

You may want to check your closet to see if your clothes reflect your allegiance to Team Jesus.

Planting The Seeds of Kindness

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More often than not, when a person discusses Galatians 6 and the law of sowing and reaping, he does so in a negative context. I think you benefit as much if not more when you apply it with a positive perspective.

Notice what Paul says in these verses: “Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. 1 Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith (gal. 6:7-10).”

St. Basil may have been thinking about these verses when he said: “He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

Taking the words of Paul to heart and applying the saintly advice of Basil, what type of seeds have you been sowing and what kind of harvest have you been reaping?

The importance of sowing seeds of kindness is found in a comment made by Leo Buscaglia: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Kindness is a form of communication that is not limited by ethnic or social barriers. It is a language that even the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

Winston Churchill once said: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” People are so focused on living and getting, that they sometimes forget to give.

I encourage you to make a difference in the life of someone today—give them the gift of kindness. “Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” ~Mother Teresa

Surface Similarities With A Depth of Difference

If you are like me, you may know a little about Jane Goodall and the research she did with chimpanzees.  Goodall and other scientists have written about similarities between the DNA of chimps and humans with a genetic commonality as high as 94 to 98%.

This surface similarity doesn’t tell the whole story.  According to an article in the Harvard Gazette, there is a depth of difference:  Among the 3 billion base pairs in the DNA  of both humans and chimpanzees, researchers found differences in 40 million sites.  It is in those sites where the differences between the two species lie.

An article in Scientific American reported that the 2% difference between the genetic composition of a chimp and a human represents at least 15 million changes in our genome . . .

Most of us spend little or no time studying the differences between the genomes of chimp and human.  We do, however, have a lifetime of experience in the perplexing way we as humans interact with each other.

Some people are incredibly kind and compassionate in the way they consistently treat others.  There is a surface similarity in the words kindness and compassion.  In fact, they are so similar; we often fail to note the depth of difference.

When we think of kindness, the qualities that should come to mind are the friendly and generous ways we treat people.   This is a spirit of benevolence that reflects our concern for others.

Compassion on the other hand is the spirit of mercy.  This is the seed that blossomed in the life of the Good Samaritan and moved him to help the badly-beaten man who was in need.

I believe it is possible for us to be kind without being compassionate; however, I don’t think a person can be compassionate without also being kind.  It doesn’t take much thought to know that Jesus calls us to be both.

Note:  The information about chimps and humans is excerpted from A Rat IS A PIG IS A DOG IS A BOY.  This book examines the agenda of the animal rights movement and contrasts it with proponents of animal welfare.