Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Kindness is not a virtue we think about on a daily basis, that is, of course, until bulldozed by rudeness. Facing a mean-spirited or selfish person, causes us to appreciate a compassionate and gentle soul.
This spring, my family traveled to Botswana, Africa for a week of ministry and then on to South Africa for a few days on safari. Our days in Botswana were lovely, and we found the people gracious and generous. Then, on our last day of ministry, our missionary friends volunteered to drive us across the border to our safari in South Africa. Everything went smoothly until we reached the South African border passport station.
Unbeknownst to us, South Africa instated a policy that required all children crossing the border to present a birth certificate. No one in our party knew this information until we were 10,000 miles from home, without internet, cell service, or a postal pigeon. Now, the point of this post is not to rant on how ridiculous this rule is, or to mention that NO OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD has this law; or to mention that a U.S. Passport is the most official document in the world. All of those pesky details are neither here nor there.
The true moral of the story is a comparison of two government workers.
When the South African official informed us of the rule, I was told very rudely and with a sharp tone of hostility that my children would remain in Botswana and would not cross the border with us. The Momma Bear in me didn’t take that news very well, so I commenced to do what any woman in her right mind would do—I begged.
I begged for mercy.
I begged to use a phone.
I begged to borrow their internet to email home.
I begged to pay someone to let me use their cell phone.
To each of my cries for help I received blank stares, rolled eyes, and a big fat “no.”
We were stranded.
We were literally in no man’s land between two countries and without means to connect with the outside world.
Let me be honest, what bugged me the most about the whole ordeal wasn’t the silly law, but how the people treated us. It was as if they enjoyed our predicament and could care less that we were in a bind.
Coldness slapped us in the face.
Without any options, we decided to return to Botswana. To reenter the country, we had to go back through their passport control office. Keep in mind, our small band of refugees was clueless and without options. For those of you who know me, you know I’m never without a plan or a strategy. I literally didn’t have a clue what to do. So, I started praying. Meanwhile, one of our staff members, Emily, began going from person to person at the Botswana passport office, explaining our predicament.
Praise God for the woman who took mercy on us. She escorted us to the back of the building and introduced us to the Director of Border Control for Botswana. This gentleman displayed Jesus to us in such a tangible way that it left me in tears. I’ve never in my life been more thankful for the kindness of strangers.
First of all, he listened. He didn’t dismiss us or treat us as a bother. He sat down and heard our need.
Second of all, he put himself in our shoes and showed compassion.
Third, he helped us. This kind man allowed us to use his personal phone to call the United States a total of 6 times until we could reach someone back home to locate the birth certificates. He utilized his office staff to retrieve faxes for us and then followed up to make sure the documentation met the requirements of South Africa.
He did all this out of the kindness of his heart. We weren’t even trying to enter his country! And he wouldn’t think of letting us pay him.
Thanks to this man, we were able (a few hours later) to continue with our journey. I literally danced across the border! His thoughtfulness was a highlight of my trip.
I came home from Africa with a renewed respect for kind-hearted people. Perhaps the ugly and nasty political season we currently face in our country has given me a fresh appreciation for this often neglected virtue.
Mark Twain once said, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can see.” I love this quote. As Christian women, we can read the Bible, attend prayer meetings, and sing worship songs until we are blue in the face, but if we aren’t kind, then all of our religious activity is worthless.
God thinks the same thing. In the book of Micah, the Lord rebukes His people. He says, in essence, your religion is worthless because you are mean, you hurt one another, and you don’t treat each other with love. God’s word to his people is this:
The Lord values kindness. When the religious leaders asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment, He responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” This, my friends, is the definition of kindness. I’ve now been home from Africa for over a month, and I can’t shake how important this virtue is for us as women of God. So, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on Becoming a Woman of Kindness.
Kindness is a personal quality that enables an individual to be sensitive to the needs of others and to take personal action to endeavor to meet those needs.
Kindness stops to help.
Kindness RSVPs to the party … and then actually shows up.
Kindness makes the casserole for the new mom.
Kindness holds the door open for someone.
Kindness says, “Please.”
Kindness says, “Thank you.”
Kindness says, “You have something in your teeth.”
Kindness keeps its word.
Oh, and by the way, we aren’t naturally kind people. That’s why the Bible says the Fruit of the Holy Spirit is “love, joy peace, patience, KINDNESS…” It is the Spirit of God within us that helps us say “no” to our selfish tendencies and to prioritize the needs of others before our own. In a world bent on entitlement and selfishness, nothing shines a spotlight on Jesus more than genuine acts of kindness by His followers. When we forget ourselves and think of others we display with our lives that we are redeemed.
Redeemed Girls, we can only walk in kindness when we walk in the Holy Spirit. When we abide with Jesus, then we will naturally exude Jesus to others. Here are a few scriptures I’m personally meditating on as I ask the Lord to cultivate kindness in my heart.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
1 Corinthians 13:4
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High;
for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.
We’d love to hear from you! Please share in the comments section how you’ve been blessed by another’s kindness. In this day and age of rudeness, selfishness and meanness, let’s give a shout out of praise to someone who actually displays Jesus’ love and mercy.
Marian Jordan Ellis