Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
—Mark Twain (1835–1910)
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
I walked slowly into Japanese Conversation class and plopped wearily into my usual seat. In the last semester of college, fatigue and mental overload was taking its toll. As graduation drew near, I was beginning to struggle with the foreboding prospect of job hunting while completing the last leg of my studies. And of all my subjects, this was the worst. I dreaded the three hours of twisting my tongue to capture the cadences of conversation in a foreign language.
When the apostle Paul was writing about living a godly life, he listed what he called the “works of the flesh,” which included things like enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, and envy.1 He then followed up with “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”2 The fruit of the Spirit is the working of the Holy Spirit within us, which causes us to grow in godliness and Christlikeness.
A well-known story tells of a man who was walking along a beach at sunset and noticed a young boy in the distance who kept bending down, picking something up, and throwing it into the water.
As the man approached, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and was throwing them back into the water. The man asked the boy what he was doing.
As I write this a very good friend of mine is struggling with wave after wave of hard news. Her husband has been laid off from a job he held for 27 years, she had a suspicious mammogram, their home AC has gone out, and they had to put down a family pet. No tragedies, yet, but plenty of hard stuff—the stuff that makes you ask “Why, God?” or “Are You there, God? Do You notice these things? Do You care?”
Charity, an Activated reader for many years, had a well-paying job in the banking industry. She had recently finished her second master’s degree from a prestigious international university. She had then given birth to a set of twins, a boy and a girl. But rather than being elated, Charity was gazing tearfully through the glass of the incubator, gazing at the little form of her sleeping son.
After 21 years of marriage, I discovered a new way of keeping the spark of love alive.
A little while ago I went out with another woman.
It was really my wife’s idea.
“I know that you love her,” she said one day, taking me by surprise.
There is a story about two brothers who enlisted in the army during World War I and were assigned to the same unit. They were soon sent to the frontline trenches. In WWI trench warfare, each side dug a network of trenches along the frontline of their territory, then laid siege to the other side’s trenches. From time to time, one side or the other launched an offensive to try to break through the enemy’s lines.