"...love is kind..."
1 Corinthians 13:4
The service had just begun and I was standing in the back going over some details with one of the ushers. Just then, a young mother with children in tow hurried through the doors of the church building, obviously frazzled and frustrated. The children were crying. Items were falling out of her over-sized mom-purse. Her hair was a mess (which surely would have horrified her even further had she been aware).
As I watched her I offered up a silent prayer to the Lord: "Father, be with this young woman this morning. She is obviously having a bad morning. Give her a sense of your peace today.".
With that prayer I turned back to the usher and resumed going through the details of the morning service. As just that moment, one of the older ladies from the church rushed over to the young mother and gave her a big hug. She then scooped up one of the children and gently guided the mother into to ladies restroom. Several minutes later the young mother emerged with her hair arranged, her children calmed, and a joyous smile on her face. All because an older sister in Christ showed some kindness.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4 Paul tells us one of the attributes of love is kindness. Though it doesn't come through in English translations very well, that word in Greek is actually a verb. Literally Paul says, "love is to be kind". Kindness is not a state of mind, or an attitude, or a feeling. It is an action. It is the tender concern for another human being which results in concrete acts that bring assistance or comfort to that individual. Someone, supposedly Mark Twain, once said "kindness is the language in which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." It is that tangible express of love that can be touched, observed, and experienced.
As I reflect on that morning I don't think my action was wrong. It was right to pray for this young mother. In fact, I believe God answered my prayer by sending that older sister in Christ. And, of course, as a man I certainly couldn't give the same practical assistance that this older sister in Christ was able to provide. But that morning did teach me an important lesson. It is not enough to feel compassion for others. In order for love to be genuine and Christ-like, it must be put into kind action.