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Cotham's Comments

By Perry B. Cotham

religion, articles, christianity

February 11-18 was declared in America as "Kindness Week." Many good editorials were written concerning the value if all citizens would be kinder to each other for a week. But if one can be kinder for a week, why not make kindness a way of life? Is this not the teaching of God?

The Bible says for people to be kind to one another. Paul, in writing to the Ephesians, told them to "be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32). In describing the characteristics of Christian love, he said that love "is kind" (1 Cor. 13:4). Ruth, the Moabitess, showed kindness to Naomi, her mother-in-law, by gleaning in the fields of Boaz; she later married Boaz, and from this union came David, the sweet singer of Israel, and finally, Christ the Son of God.

It pays to be kind to others. It is better to be tenderhearted and compassionate than to be hateful and revengeful. If we want others to treat us with kindness, we should be kind—and even take the initiative. "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly" (Prov. 18:24). Kindness gives birth to kindness. When it is genuine, it is not an act of weakness, but of strength. It is an act that shows that one is not afraid of losing anything by giving himself to another person. When we show kindness, regardless of how small the act may be, we not only elevate ourselves, we elevate the best in humanity. What a difference this can make in our lives, and in the lives of others around us, in our homes, in the church, in school, and where we work: How wise must one be to be always kind. "Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together" (Goethe). He who neglects kindness will rarely be loved.

Why do we not make kindness a way of life? It may seem like a very simple suggestion. Everybody knows we should be kind. But does everybody really know that? If so, why do we not see more of it? Think what a difference that would make.

We read and hear about violent, destructive acts being done to others. Isn't it uplifting to hear and to read some good news of people being kind to people? Someone said, "A kind word and a pleasant voice are gifts easy to give; be liberal with them; they are worth more than money." If all acted upon the principle of kindness, especially Christians, the world and the church would be much happier than it is. If we would write our names by acts of love and kindness on the hearts of the people with whom we come in contact year by year, we would never be forgotten.

The virtuous woman had "in her tongue the law of kindness" (Prov. 31:26). She spoke gently. Little acts of kindness brighten the world. This was exemplified in the life of our Savior, who, while on earth, went about doing good" (Acts 10:38; cf. 1 Pet. 2:21).

We should express appreciation to our friends. It is a shame not to let them know how much we love and esteem them. A kind word is never thrown away.

A little word in kindness spoken,
A motion, or a tear,
Has often healed the heart that's broken,
And made a friend sincere.

David showed kindness to Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan and grandson of King Saul. When Saul and Jonathan were slain, Mephibosheth was five years old. At this age he met with an accident that deprived him for the remainder of his life of the use of both feet. King David, because of his love for Jonathan, asked: "Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake" (2 Sam. 9:1). Learning of Mephibosheth, David sent for him; and when he had come to Jerusalem, David said to him, "Fear not: for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore all the land of Saul thy father and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually" (2 Sam. 9:7). "So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem" (v. 13) and ate bread at the king's table the remainder of his life. What a beautiful act of kindness.

Yes, why not make kindness a way of life?

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Published May 1996