On our last day of honeymoon, my husband and I woke up to a drizzly morning and decided to go out for a romantic stroll. I love drizzly walks followed by visits to cosy coffee shops, so on noticing that my new husband did not plan to bring along his wallet, I quickly grabbed a bank bag of loose change that we happened to have with us. After our walk, I suggested we go for a coffee and was told that unfortunately this was not possible as we had no money on us. I then produced my meagre stash, and it was decided that we had enough for just one cup of coffee each. After ordering, I thought perhaps we might have enough money left over for a muffin to share; we poured our coins out onto the table and realized that all we could afford was biscotti to dip in our coffee.
I recall this morning now, as I think about kindness, because as things played out, my husband and I were able to enjoy a lovely, hearty breakfast each – due to someone else’s kindness. I want to explore the seven fruits of the Spirit over my next seven Coffee Breaks with Anna. I want to do this so that I can assess my character against these Christ-like attributes.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
A verse like Galations 5:22-23 is sometimes too easy to brush over and think “I know all this – I learnt it in Sunday School already.” However, even though I know I should aspire to be kind, am I always kind? Kindness is an action. It is an action that, I think, goes hand-in-hand with humility, self-sacrifice, vulnerability, forgiveness and meekness – a list of words that could all be associated with weakness if we don’t truly understand the power to transform that lies within genuine acts of kindness. True kindness springs from a deep well of love, it is at its most transformative not when it is handed out to those who deserve or expect it, but rather when it is freely given to those who might possibly be shocked to receive it. It bears witness and becomes a testimony when it defies our self-protective instincts to give only when we receive. I think of the story published in Gateway News http://gatewaynews.co.za/2012/05/10/farm-worker-and-water-miracle-lead-farmer-to-jesus/ of how Kerneels bestowed kindness on a hard-hearted racist farmer, Jaco, offering to work for him when nobody else would – and expecting nothing in return. He only asked that he be paid at the end of the month what Jaco thought his work was worth. This was kind. This kindness transformed, and the story is a witness.
I want to challenge myself to act with kindness when prompted by the Holy Spirit, even if it does not make sense. Think about the times that kindness has touched you. It was probably touching because it was surprising and unexpected, and it probably inspired a bit of kindness in you too. Kindness is like that.
On that drizzly morning on the last day of my honeymoon, a man unknown to my husband and I sat at a nearby table and witnessed a young couple wishing they had enough money for a muffin. He gave the waitress one hundred rand to pay for our breakfast. Our kind benefactor did not know anything about us, or know that it was the last day of our honeymoon, and his simple act of kindness greatly blessed us. We will always remember this, and were reminded of how nice it is to be the recipient of kindness. Kindness transforms, testifies, blesses and inspires. Let’s be kind.