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Your Kindness Quotient

 




        


                                                    Your Kindness  Quotient 

                                                            Love is kind.
                                                    1 Corinthians 13:4 niv

The kindness of Jesus.

We are quick to think of his power,

his passion, and his devotion.

But those near him knew and know

God comes cloaked in kindness.

Three messages were on my answering machine this morning. All three making the same request. They’d heard the topic of this chapter and wanted to contribute. God had been kind to them. They had a story to share. I invited them over.


The first to arrive was a young couple freshly married. Both showed evidence of a recent wedding—she was thin from the weight she’d lost; he was wide eyed at the bride he’d gained. Sitting cuddly close on the couch, they told me their story. She did most of the talking. He nodded and smiled and would finish a sentence when she stopped for breath.


“My mother and Mary had been friends since they were teens. So we invited Mary and Jesus to the wedding.”

“My wife knew Jesus when he ran the family business,” he added.

“We were thrilled when Jesus came. But a bit surprised at the vanload of buddies. There was a bunch.”

“Fifteen or twenty,” he offered.

“But that was fine. After all, Jesus is like family. Besides, we had a


great time. Long after the ceremony ended, people lingered. Eating and drinking.”

“Drinking a bit too much,” the groom explained.

“Yeah, soon the wine was gone, and the waiters were nervous because the people still wanted to party.”


The young girl slid to the front of the couch. “I didn’t even know about the problem until it was solved. No one told me. Someone told Jesus, though, and he took care of it. Not only did he produce more wine, he improved it!” She went on to say that the wedding coordinator reported that the vintage tasted like the hundred-dollar-a-bottle Bordeaux she tasted once at a wine festival.


The young man moved up to the front of the couch with his wife. “Here is what impresses us.” As he spoke, she looked at him and nodded as if she knew what he was going to say. “This is his first miracle, right? His debut, and he uses it on us! To save us from looking like poor hosts.”

 

“He didn’t have to do that,” she jumped in. “Our town had sick people, poor people. Why, raising the dead would have made the headlines. But he used his premiere miracle on a social miscue. Wasn’t that kind of him?” She smiled. He smiled.

So did I.

 

As they left a businessman came in. Told me his name was Zacchaeus. A short fellow in an Italian suit. All tan and teeth. Cole Haans. Ray·Bans. You could tell he had done well for himself. “Don’t let the appearance fool you,” he said. “I had the bucks but not the friends. Built this big house on the edge of town. But no one ever came to see me, not even the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Can’t say I blamed them. I paid for the place with money I’d skimmed off their taxes. No, no one ever visited me till the day Jesus came.


 ‘I’m coming to your house today,’ he announced. Right there in the middle of town where all could hear. He didn’t have to do that, you know. The diner was down the block, or I would have bought him lunch at the club. But, no, he wanted to come to my house. And he wanted everyone to know where he was going. His is the first signature in my guest book. That was kind of him, don’t you think? Unbelievably kind.”


Later in the day a woman came by. Middle aged. Hair streaked with gray and pulled back. Dress was simple. Reminded me of a middle-school librarian. Face was wrinkled and earnest. Said she’d been sick for a dozen years.

HIV positive.

 

“That’s a long time,” I said.

Long enough, she agreed, to run out of doctors, money, even hope. But worst of all, she had run out of friends. “They were afraid of me,” she said. “Worried about catching the disease. My church hadn’t turned me out, but they hadn’t helped me out either. I hadn’t been home in years. Been living in a shelter. But then Jesus came to town. He was on his way to treat the mayor’s daughter, who was dying. The crowd was thick, and people were pushing, but I was desperate.”

 

She spoke of following Jesus at a distance. Then she drew near and stepped back for fear of being recognized. She told of inching behind a broad-shouldered man and staying in his wake until, as she said, “There were only two people between him and me. I pressed my arm through the mob and reached for the hem of his jacket. Not to grab, just to touch it. And when I did, my body changed. Instantly. My face rushed with warmth. I could breathe deeply. My back seemed to straighten. 


I stopped, letting the people push past. He stopped too. ‘Who touched me?’ he asked. I slid behind the big man again and said nothing. As he and the crowd waited, my heart pounded. From the healing? From fear? From both? I didn’t know. Then he asked again, ‘Who touched me?’ He didn’t sound angry—just curious. So I spoke up. My voice shook; so did my hands. The big man stepped away. Jesus stepped forward, and I told the whole story.”

 

“The whole story?” I asked.

“The whole story,” she replied.

I tried to imagine the moment. Everyone waiting as Jesus listened. The crowd waiting. The city leaders waiting. A girl was dying, people were pressing, disciples were questioning, but Jesus . . . Jesus was listening. Listening to the whole story. He didn’t have to. The healing would have been enough. Enough for her. Enough for the crowd. But not enough for him. Jesus wanted to do more than heal her body. He wanted to hear her story—all of it. The whole story. What a kind thing to do. The miracle restored her health. The kindness restored her dignity.

 

And what he did next, the woman never forgot. “As if he hadn’t done enough already”—her eyes began to water—“he called me ‘daughter.’ ‘Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.’


I’ve been told he never used that word with anyone else. Just me.”1 After she left, I checked. She was right.

The kindness of Jesus. We are quick to think of his power, his passion, and his devotion. But those near him knew and know God comes cloaked in kindness. Kind enough to care about a faux pas. Kind enough to have lunch with a crook. Kind enough to bless a suffering sister.

 

“Love is kind,” writes Paul.

Nehemiah agrees: “You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness” (Neh. 9:17 NKJV).

David agrees, “Your lovingkindness is better than life” (Ps. 63:3 NASB).

Paul speaks of “the kindness and love of God our Savior” (Titus 3:4 NIV). He is exuberant as he announces: “Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it” (Eph. 2:7–8 MSG).

But Jesus’ invitation offers the sweetest proof of the kindness of heaven:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matt. 11:28–30 NKJV)

Farmers in ancient Israel used to train an inexperienced ox by yoking it to an experienced one with a wooden harness. The straps around the older animal were tightly drawn. He carried the load. But the yoke around the younger animal was loose. He walked alongside the more mature ox, but his burden was light. In this verse Jesus is saying, “I walk alongside you. We are yoked together. But I pull the weight and carry the burden.”

 

I wonder, how many burdens is Jesus carrying for us that we know nothing about? We’re aware of some. He carries our sin. He carries our shame. He carries our eternal debt. But are there others? Has he lifted fears before we felt them? Has he carried our confusion so we wouldn’t have to? Those times when we have been surprised by our own sense of peace? Could it be that Jesus has lifted our anxiety onto his shoulders and placed a yoke of kindness on ours?


And how often do we thank him for his kindness? Not often enough. But does our ingratitude restrict his kindness? No. “Because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin” (Luke 6:35).

 

In the original language, the word for kindness carries an added idea the English word does not. Chiefly it refers to an act of grace. But it also refers to a deed or person who is “useful, serviceable, adapted to its purpose.”2 Kindness was even employed to describe food that was tasty as well as healthy. Sounds odd to our ears. “Hey, honey, what a great meal. The salad is especially kind tonight.”


But the usage makes sense. Isn’t kindness good and good for you? Pleasant and practical? Kindness not only says good morning, kindness makes the coffee. Again, doesn’t Jesus fit this description? He not only attended the wedding, he rescued it. He not only healed the woman, he honored her. He did more than call Zacchaeus by name; he entered his house.

 

Hasn’t he acted similarly with you? Hasn’t he helped you out of a few jams? Hasn’t he come into your house? And has there ever been a time when he was too busy to listen to your story? The Bible says, “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD” (Ps. 107:43 NKJV). Hasn’t God been kind—pleasantly useful—to you? And since God has been so kind to you (you know what I am about to say), can’t you be kind to others?

 

Paul’s question is for all of us: “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4 NASB). Repentance from what? Certainly from ungodliness, rebellion, and sin. But can’t we equally state that God’s kindness leads to repentance from unkindness?

 

Some may think that all this talk of kindness sounds, well . . . it sounds a bit wimpy. Men in particular tend to value more dramatic virtues— courage, devotion, and visionary leadership. We attend seminars on strategizing and team building. But I can’t say I’ve ever attended or even heard of one lecture on kindness. Jesus, however, would take issue with our priorities. “Go and learn what this means,” he commands. “‘I want kindness more than I want animal sacrifices’” (Matt. 9:13). Paul places kindness toward the top of the pyramid when he writes, “Love is kind” (1 Cor. 13:4 NIV).

 

How kind are you? What is your kindness quotient? When was the last time you did something kind for someone in your family—e.g., got a blanket, cleaned off the table, prepared the coffee—without being asked?

Think about your school or workplace. Which person is the most overlooked or avoided? A shy student? A grumpy employee? Maybe he doesn’t speak the language. Maybe she doesn’t fit in. Are you kind to this person?

 

Kind hearts are quietly kind. They let the car cut into traffic and the young mom with three kids move up in the checkout line. They pick up the neighbor’s trash can that rolled into the street. And they are especially kind at church. They understand that perhaps the neediest person they’ll meet all week is the one standing in the foyer or sitting on the row behind them in worship. Paul writes: “When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it. But we should give special attention to those who are in the family of believers” (Gal. 6:10).

 

And, here is a challenge—what about your enemies? How kind are you to those who want what you want or take what you have?

A friend of mine witnessed a humorous act of kindness at an auction. The purpose of the gathering was to raise money for a school. Someone had donated a purebred puppy that melted the heart and opened the checkbooks of many guests. Two in particular.

They sat on opposite sides of the banquet room, a man and a woman. As the bidding continued, these two surfaced as the most determined. Others dropped off, but not this duo. Back and forth they went until they’d one-upped the bid to several thousand dollars. This was no longer about a puppy. This was about victory. This was the Wimbledon finals, and neither player was backing off the net. (Don’t you know the school president was drooling?)

 

Finally the fellow gave in and didn’t return the bid. “Going once, going twice, going three times. Sold!” The place erupted, and the lady was presented with her tail-wagging trophy. Her face softened, then reddened. Maybe she’d forgotten where she was. Never intended to go twelve rounds at a formal dinner. Certainly never intended for the world to see her pitbull side.

 

So you know what she did? As the applause subsided, she walked across the room and presented the puppy to the competition.

Suppose you did that with your competition. With your enemy. With the boss who fired you or the wife who left you. Suppose you surprised them with kindness? Not easy? No, it’s not. But mercy is the deepest gesture of kindness. Paul equates the two. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph.

4:32 NKJV). Jesus said:

Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you. . . . If you love only the people who love you, what praise should you get? . . . [L]ove your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without hoping to get anything back. Then you will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High God, because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin. Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy. (Luke 6:27–28, 32, 35–36)

Kindness at home. Kindness in public. Kindness at church and kindness with your enemies. Pretty well covers the gamut, don’t you think? Almost. Someone else needs your kindness. Who could that be? You.

Don’t we tend to be tough on ourselves? And rightly so. Like the young couple at the wedding, we don’t always plan ahead. Like Zacchaeus, we’ve cheated our share of friends. We’ve been self-serving. And like the woman with the illness, our world sometimes seems out of control.

 

But did Jesus scold the couple? No. Did he punish Zacchaeus? No. Was he hard on the woman? No. He is kind to the forgetful. He is kind to the greedy. He is kind to the sick.  And he is kind to us. And since he is so kind to us, can’t we be a little kinder to ourselves? Oh, but you don’t know me, Max. You don’t know my faults and my thoughts. You don’t know the gripes I grumble and the complaints I mumble. No, I don’t, but he does. He knows everything about you, yet he doesn’t hold back his kindness toward you. Has he, knowing all your secrets, retracted one promise or reclaimed one gift?

 

No, he is kind to you. Why don’t you be kind to yourself? He forgives your faults. Why don’t you do the same? He thinks tomorrow is worth living. Why don’t you agree? He believes in you enough to call you his ambassador, his follower, even his child. Why not take his cue and believe in yourself?

 

In the book entitled Sweet Thursday, John Steinbeck introduces us to Madam Fauna. She runs a brothel and takes a liking to a prostitute by the name of Suzy. Madam Fauna sets Suzy up on a real date with a man, not a client. She buys Suzy a nice dress and helps her get ready for the evening. As Suzy is leaving, she, moved by Madam Fauna’s kindness, asks her, “You have done so much for me. Can I do anything for you?”


“Yes,” the older woman replies, “you can say, ‘I’m Suzy and no one else.’”

Suzy does. Then Madam Fauna requests, “Now say, ‘I’m Suzy, and I’m a good thing.’”

And so Suzy tries. “I’m Suzy, and I’m a good . . .” And Suzy begins to cry.

Wouldn’t God want you to say the same words? In his book you are a good thing. Be kind to yourself. God thinks you’re worth his kindness. And he’s a good judge of character.

 

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