Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thoughts on Kindness

When I read through the book of Proverbs (I try to do a chapter every day), I start to notice that some chapters have a running theme. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 are advice from a father to a son. Chapter 7 is about avoiding adulteresses. Chapter 8 reads almost like a fairy tale, telling the story of a woman named Wisdom. Chapter 31 gives standards of a good woman. 

Some chapters, however, are more subtle in their themes. You have to read them often, chew on them, mull them over. Chapter 11 is like that. If you dig deep into Proverbs 11, you see a theme of kindness. Of course, not every verse in the chapter relates to kindness, but there is a general focus on generosity, integrity, and righteousness. Here are a few verses that stuck out to me:

"A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches. A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself." (Prov. 11:16-17 ESV)

"The desire of the righteous ends only in good; the expectation of the wicked in wrath. One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want." (Prov. 11:23-24 ESV)

"Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered." (Prov. 11:25 ESV)

I thought these verses were very timely. Lately I've been hearing of Random Acts of Kindness Week, in which people are trying to make a more focused effort to show kindness to the people around them. I like this idea, because I think we need to all be more aware of the love we are showing (or not showing) to others. We should not confine our kindness to one week. We need to make every moment a moment of love and kindness. 

I say this for myself, too. It is so easy to get in the habit of doing things for myself, for what makes me happy and confident and satisfied. We all too easily forget the Lord's promise that "one who waters will himself be watered". 

To get you in the mood, here are some pansies from Salzburg, Austria :o)

So go out and encourage someone today. It doesn't have to be difficult. A kind word, a smile, a prayer, a chore, a little note with a smiley face, a flower in the midst of the cold winter, can all bring hope to someone's dark day. And in showing them kindness, you "enrich" yourself. This should not be the goal, but it is the consequence. Make whatever corner of the world you inhabit more beautiful than it was before! Show some love this week!

Hanneli

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