Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
October 6, 2019
A language the deaf can hear and the blind can see
The prolific writer Mark Twain left us many delightful quotations. This is one of his best: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Even more expressive are the words of Albert Schweitzer: “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.” Both these respected men, with these words, remind us of the great value of simple acts of kindness.
Kindness is so important that no one denounces it and everybody applauds it. Yet it is conspicuously absent in the rhetoric and actions of the politicians of our time. Even more alarming, though not surprising, is the growing acceptance of profanity among those vying for public office. Profane language will surely weaken, if not destroy, the fiber of our society. Surely it is time, perhaps past time, for decent, Godfearing citizens to come against incivility with kindness.
Christians understand that kindness is one of the great themes of the Bible. In Second Samuel there is the tender story of King David asking if there is anyone to whom he can show the kindness of God. When informed that there was present a son of Jonathan who was lame in both feet, David summoned Mephibosheth. As the frightened young man stood before him, David said, “Don’t be afraid, for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father, and you will always eat at my table.” In later years David penned these words in Psalms 63: “Thy loving kindness is better than life. My lips shall praise Thee. Thus will I bless Thee. I will lift up my hands unto Thy name.”
Solomon, in Proverbs 14, tells us: “Blessed is he who is kind to the needy,” and “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Such scriptural admonitions remind us the necessity to show kindness to the needy as well as to strangers and friends.
Named as one of the fruits of the Spirit, kindness is often linked to Christian living in the New Testament. When writing to the Colossians, Paul insists that his friends must “rid themselves” of anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language.” Some of our politicians, on the Left and the Right, would have to rewrite their speeches if they took Paul seriously! Paul goes on to admonish the Colossians to “clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Imagine how the political arena would change if our politicians were to follow Paul’s advice!
Twice in his letters, Paul speaks of our salvation as being “the kindness of God.” Indeed, God’s willingness to allow Christ to die for us “while we were yet sinners” is the ultimate kindness. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul invites us to “be imitators of God.” At first glance that seems impossible, but it is what we are called to do – to imitate God’s kindness as we relate to others, thus practicing forgiveness like that we have received from God. Here is surely the solution to the incivility that threatens to destroy our nation!
Receiving authentic kindness, when we least deserve it, can be life-changing. On one occasion (and there have been many others!), I did a foolish thing. I voiced some sharp criticisms of a man in my church who had been a close friend. When others told him what I had said, he called me and poured his anger into my ears. Our friendship was history. Days went by, days when my guilt was overwhelming.
Finally, I swallowed my pride and drove to his home, actually hoping he would not be there! But he was there, and I managed somehow to get the words out: “I want to apologize for what I said and ask you to forgive me. I need your friendship in my life.”
Thankfully he was open to reconciliation. We wept unashamedly and prayed together and God restored our relationship. I have never forgotten the joy of that moment for it was an act of kindness for both of us. Kindness demonstrated. Kindness practiced. Kindness at work. Perhaps that is why my favorite verse in the New Testament is Ephesians 4:32 – “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”
Who would come to mind if you were to ask for yourself the question King David asked, “Is there someone to whom I can show the kindness of God?” Ponder that. Then ask yourself this question: Is it time for me to engage in an act of kindness that could be life-changing? Dare to go where the Spirit leads! + + +