And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
— Ephesians 4:32
Today I’d like to begin by telling you about an amazing event that occurred when Denise and I were in Greece some years ago — an experience that taught me a lot about the impact kindness has on others.
While visiting the ancient city of Corinth, Denise and I decided to take the long walk up the rocky road that led to the acropolis where the Temple of Aphrodite once stood. Having taught on the book of Corinthians for many years and knowing the historical influence that this location once had on the people of Corinth, I wanted to ascend that arduous peak to see that ancient site with my own eyes. But as we walked higher and higher, we understood that this would take far more time than we had planned, so we turned around and headed back down the mountain, descending the same slippery slope we had climbed.
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
As we descended, I suddenly felt my foot slip out from under me. With lightning speed, I slammed onto the rocky surface of that ancient road. And the instant I hit the ground, I knew I had broken something in my left hand and wrist. In a matter of seconds, my left wrist had swollen to twice its normal size — and because I am left-handed and a writer, I understood that the consequences of this could be serious. Denise took me by the arm and slowly we descended that road until we arrived at the car. I could see the look of shock on the driver’s face, as he very carefully helped me into the car and then drove like a madman to get me to a hospital in Athens.
As the car sped down the highway toward the hospital, my hand and wrist continued to swell larger. Denise and I knew that I was in serious condition in a foreign country. About an hour later, the driver pulled up to the emergency entrance of a hospital and ran inside to get help. He soon reemerged with an English-speaking group of medical attendants, who took us into an emergency room filled with people who were also waiting for emergency care. When I saw the large number of people who were in line before us, I nearly despaired. As a writer, I didn’t want my ability to type to be affected by this incident, and I knew this could become a really serious injury if I didn’t get help fast.
Denise and I were instructed to “take a seat” in the long, noisy hallway, filled with other people also waiting to see a doctor. Then suddenly a nurse waved for us to quickly follow her, and she escorted us right past the registration desk, past scores of people, and into a small room, where she told us to sit and wait. In just a few minutes, a doctor appeared who spoke a little English. He summoned a team together, and they began to examine my hand and wrist so they could determine what to do with me. Although I was on foreign soil in a very crowded, noisy hospital, the kindness and care the medical staff showed me was amazing. They literally escorted us from the car, into the building, past long lines of people who were waiting, and into a private room, where doctors urgently treated me with compassionate care.
After X-rays, it was determined that I needed emergency surgery, so we made plans to fly to Tulsa, where our U.S. office is located and our extended family resides. There I could recuperate for several weeks. So with the Greek doctors’ permission and a lot of very serious instructions (they explicitly told me how to carry my hand in order to travel), the following day Denise and I boarded an airplane that took us to America, where the required surgery was performed. A medical team inserted a metal plate with seven screws into my wrist to put me back together again!
Although it has been years since that accident happened, every time I look at my hand and wrist, I see the large scar from the surgery that is still visible, and it causes me to remember the great kindness that was shown to me in that experience. If people had been unkind or uncaring, it would have made the situation much more difficult. But their kindness changed the atmosphere and the outcome of the entire predicament for me.
When I look at that scar on my left hand, I am reminded of that moment when tender care was provided to me, and I am thankful for it. But I am also convicted by it, for we as Christians should be known for this type of kindness. The apostle Paul commanded us to demonstrate kindness to one another. In Ephesians 4:32, Paul said, “And be ye kind one to another.…”
When Paul said, “Be ye…,” the Greek describes an ongoing process. The idea is to “start where you are and continuously work at it; be constantly becoming kind….” This tells us that this trait can be cultivated. If you’re not a naturally kind person, this doesn’t mean you can’t develop this trait. Kindness (gentleness) is a fruit of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22. If you will yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him do His work inside you, He will produce this valuable fruit through your life.
Oh, let us surrender to the indwelling Holy Spirit! As we yield to the Spirit of God’s work in our lives, He makes it easier for us to demonstrate the kindness of Jesus Christ toward others. It may take time, but if we start where we are and continuously work at it, we can begin to produce a great harvest of kindness in our lives!
But what do I mean by kindness?
In Ephesians 4:32, the Greek word for “kindness” is chrestos. This well-known word portrayed helpfulness, warm-heartedness, and a willingness to show goodness from the heart to others — a trait so admirable in the ancient world that it was viewed as a characteristic that everyone should seek to possess. You could say that chrestos pictures a person who is attentive to the needs of others, who is beneficial and helpful to others, or even who is considerate of other people and their needs and demonstrates this kindness in some way.
This word acutely describes the attitude Jesus wants to produce in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ wants us to be so conformed to His image that we will be moved with compassion when we see someone who is in need. We will no longer be able to stand idly by and watch a need go unmet but will treat it with the most urgent and loving care.
That is what I experienced the day I slipped on the acropolis above Corinth and broke my wrist — a great demonstration of compassionate kindness. I don’t know the spiritual status of those who helped me, but I know the attributes they demonstrated to me that day match the descriptions of what Paul commands us to cultivate in our lives.
As noted before, if you don’t think these qualities naturally flow from your life, that’s all right, because the Holy Spirit lives inside you! And if you will yield to Him, He will cause kindness to flow out of you in an ever-increasing demonstration of His unconditional, compassionate love!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I earnestly desire for the character of Christ to be fully formed in me. I ask that You help me cultivate the fruit of kindness Jesus displayed as He was moved by divine compassion as He went about doing good. Holy Spirit, teach me how to display the Father’s heart and character to those in need of Your kindness the most. Lord, it is Your lovingkindness that leads men to repentance and draws them to You. Today I commit to love others as You have loved me by the power of Your Holy Spirit within me.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I let my roots grow down deep into Christ and that His life in me enables me to produce the fruits of righteousness that glorify His name. I choose to yield to the Holy Spirit and to let Him do His work inside me. As I surrender to the Holy Spirit’s work in my life, He helps me demonstrate kindness. I allow God to do His sanctifying and transforming work throughout all my personality. Day by day, I yield to the Holy Spirit’s presence to help me demonstrate the kindness of Jesus Christ in my life for the glory of God the Father!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you recall a moment when someone showed you special kindness at a difficult time? When was that moment? What kind of impression did that act of kindness make on your life? Have you ever thanked that person for the kindness he or she showed to you at that moment?
- Are you known by others as a kind and compassionate person? Are these traits lacking in your life? Are these areas that the Holy Spirit wants to develop and cultivate inside you?
- Has there ever been a moment when you were so inwardly moved by a person or need that you had to get up and do something about it? That is the movement of compassion. What were the circumstances leading up to that moment, and what was the harvest?