HOW TO BE A BETTER PERSON? # 6

ENJOY BEING KIND

Kindness is a fruit of the human spirit or attitude (Gal.5: 22). It is a fruit that does not grow on its own, but it must be seeded or planted and then nurtured and cultured until it bears fruit. In my own life, my parents began to instill the idea of kindness into me when I behave inappropriately as a child. From then on it became a life-long task. I became even more conscientious as an adult, in particular when I was on the receiving end. I was not always aware or perceptive until I was in need of some form of kindness myself. And I did learn early that there were many kind people that were kind without being friends. I learned this before I encountered a religious or soul change. Without the seed of kindness planted within our heart, conversion or a sudden awareness of kindness for an adult could become nearly impossible. It has to be part of our upbringing and then a continuous practice throughout life. In fact, kindness is the root of all that is good in mankind.

Kindness is rooted in creation itself. Everything God made was good and man from the start was to manage his affairs and treatment of others, even the animals with kindness. My ancestors learned kindness from the Bible. The Law of Moses commanded that God’s people be kind to the stranger (Ex.12: 48-9; 23: 9). He appreciated the kindness of Reuel or Jethro and his family when he ran from the Egyptians (Gen. 3-4). Cain was banished for failing to be his brother’s keeper (Gen. 4). Leviticus 19: 18 equated, “loving one’s neighbor” with “loving God” (Mt.22: 34-40). To remove any doubt as to whom Jesus meant, He illustrated it with “The Parable of the Good Samaritan.” Two strangers were neighbors to each other. Kindness made them neighbors and brothers (Lk.10: 25-37). Christ’s own brothers and sisters were those that did the will of God (Mt.12: 46-50). Particularly, those that exercised some form of kindness to those in need (Mt.25: 34-40). The key to all our relationships is kindness. It is anchored in the principle that we do to others what we would expect them to do when we are in similar circumstances (Mt.18: 21-35).

Naturally, the people in the Bible and especially Jesus of all people had to be kind. In my 82 years, I have met many of Jesus’ followers that did not even know that they were. We were evicted from our homes and properties in 1939 and again in 1945. In 1939, we hid for weeks with kind strangers in fear of our lives. On January 19, 1945 we began a journey with two horses and a meager supply of money and food as strangers ourselves retreating from the Red Army’s devastation trail. The very next night, while we stayed in the Town Square in Breslau, an older couple took us in for the night in their home. The city had been already evacuated. A night later, a merciful farmer that was soon to loose his property offered us shelter. Down the road near Jena, a couple that had lost both sons to the war wanted us to stay and for our service, they would let us have their farm. Near Erfurt, we found a vacant farm and we had hopped to stay, but the Americans were too generous with the Russians and we kept on running West. In Frankfurt on the Main, we broke down and a kind man welded our axle and strangers directed us where we could find shelter. In one place, a kind employer offered father work and four small army barracks that had housed prisoners of war. In one small hamlet, priests introduced us to a huge farmer that had a ready cottage for us for helping during the harvest. One day, while we were on the road, a car with some strangers spooked father and we turned in the opposite direction. Fall had come and we were still on the road. Our hope was to settle in the American zone. The British had been kind to us. In one place they encouraged a lonely woman to take us in for the night that had good reasons to fear strangers. When she realized that we meant no harm, she became very hospital. Kindness was a two-way street. The British soldiers helped us meet in the middle.

Towards one evening, we crossed the River Diemel into American territory and were quickly surrounded by very helpful people. It was as if God had put them there to welcome us. The town was called “Wrexen” and it was ready to give us a home and work for the next six years. It was in this area, that I grew into manhood and from there we immigrated to North America. At 21, I was hurt in a fire and spent 18 months in hospitals and then 8 years to re-educate so that I could live and function in our world. Throughout this time, many strangers assisted me in my recovery. Without them, I would not have survived or become a minister, a teacher and a writer. Not a one of them asked anything in return. All I did was express my thanks. One act of kindness touched many hearts. When I could not use my hands for more than 6 months, nurses turned the pages in my Bible so I could read it. After I retired, I was diagnosed with cancer and again I was overwhelmed with friends. If I give the impression that all who assisted me were friends, then I must add that one friend made up for ten that were not. Even those that did things grudgingly deserve thanks for what they did. To use the measure we want to be measured with will not always produce friends. Nevertheless, it can indicate where we should begin to practice kindness (Mt.7: 2).

Kindness is a form of love that does not seek notoriety or recognition for having been instrumental in easing someone’s burden. It does not leave a name or calling card behind. We were newly weds, and on our way from Sioux Falls to Winnipeg during school break, we had a flat tire and were struggling to put on the spare. A young man in a truck stopped, smiled and said, “Let me do that for you.” In a few minutes he was gone and took his smile with him, leaving us in a thankful mood. He appeared to be in a bit of a hurry; yet, he did not mind to be kind. It may not have been a big deal for him, but it was for us.