March 19th, 2018

Kind words, deeds dearly needed

By Submitted Article on November 11, 2017.

Word power

Last of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

Christ’s words of love

nurse hidden wounds,

healing slowly to scars

of victorious battles.

Debates in public media, governing bodies, and international relations have lately become increasingly caustic. Not long ago, fierce opponents showed respect for each other as persons.

Children are already exposed to rude and violent behaviour on TV, e-games and movies. When compounded by the rudeness of public figures, the negative outcome should not surprize us. Add abusive domestic disputes to it, and the mix can blow up civility and civilization.

History shows repeatedly that civilizations grew when the standards were high, and that they declined when values crumbled. Increasing violence and immorality often rings in the last round.

St. Paul included kindness as one of the hallmarks of sound Christianity. God showed kindness to humanity by giving his Son as atoning sacrifice (Eph. 2:7, Tit. 3:4); therefore, he expects those who are saved to show kindness to others (2 Cor. 6:6, Gal. 5:22, Col. 3:12). Paul lists kindness as a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22), and as an essential part of serving agape-love (1 Cor. 13:4).

The Greek words for kindness (chrestos) and Christ (Christos) sound similar. Although there is apparently no linguistic link, the two concepts are close in real life. Christos comes from a word that means rubbing oil gently to the skin.

Rebekah practised kindness when she volunteered to draw water from the well for the camels of Abraham’s servant (Gen. 24:11-20). From the context we may assume that God endowed her with kindness, including her in the messianic lineage.

Having been insulted instead of rewarded by Nabal for services rendered, David and his gang approached Nabal’s place in anger. Nabal’s wife Abigail set off with lots of food and delicacies to soothe the anger and hunger of David and his men. (1 Sam. 25). Abigail’s kindness prevented a massacre.

Because the prophet Jeremiah opposed Judah’s alliance with Egypt against Babylon, his enemies dumped him in a muddy well, hoping the elderly prophet would not survive the ordeal.

Ebed-Meleck, an Ethiopian servant of the king, felt compassion for Jeremiah. He got the king’s permission to haul Jeremiah out of the pit. He put old clothes under Jeremiah’s armpits, so that the rope would not bruise his skin. God rewarded Ebed-Meleck for his kindness: when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, his life was spared (Jer. 38, 39).

Jesus asked a Samaritan woman to give him a drink from her jar. As they talked, Jesus kindly brought light into her dark life. She responded with further kindness by hurrying to the village, telling everybody that the Messiah waited for them at Jacob’s Well. Many came to faith, thanks to her generosity (John 4).

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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