—by Charles R. Swindoll

In our pocket of society where pampered affluence is rampant, we are often at a loss to know what kind of gifts to buy our friends and loved ones on special occasions. For some people (especially those who ‘have everything’), the standard type of gift won’t cut it. Nothing in the shopping mall catches our fancy. 

The greatest gift of all
I have a suggestion. It may not seem that expensive or sound very novel, but – believe me – it works every time. It’s one of those gifts that has great value, but no price tag. It can’t be lost, nor will it ever be forgotten. No problem with size either – it fits all shapes, all ages, and every personality. This ideal gift is – yourself. That’s right, give some of yourself away by remembering the unusual value of kindness.

  • Give an hour of your time to someone who needs you.
  • Give a note of encouragement to someone who is down.
  • Give a hug of affirmation to someone in your family.
  • Give a visit of mercy to someone who is laid aside.
  • Give some time to someone who is lonely.
  • Give a meal to someone who is sick.
  • Give a word of compassion to someone who has suffered a loss.
  • Give a second chance to someone who has fallen.
  • Give a deed of thoughtfulness to someone who is often overlooked.
  • Give a gentle response to someone who is frustrated.

Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit
In the words of Ephesians 4:32, “be kind.” My sister, Luci, paraphrases this verse, “Just be nice.” The umbrella of kindness covers all the ‘one another commands’ of the Bible (and there are a lot of them!). Kindness braids mercy and grace with humility and gentleness. It gives grace, requires humility, and asks that we think of others before ourselves.

Kindness can change the world
Ever notice that kindness is most appreciated when life has gone sideways? When you’re having ‘one of those days’, words of kindness draw us back like a lifeline. Who else but to the Body of Christ should the world look as a model of kindness? Unfortunately, the man on the street would probably not respond with the word ‘kind’ when asked to describe the Christians he knows. I say we change that. 

Stepping stone to God’s love
Kindness is something you and I can do today. It offers a gentle response. It is the first to forgive. It gives time, compassion, and thoughtfulness. In ordinary ways, we can give ourselves away and become models of God’s agape love. Remember 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is kind.” When you give ordinary kindness to others, you’ll find there’s nothing ordinary about it – it is, in fact, the stepping-stone to God’s love.

CHARLES R. SWINDOLL is an evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher. He founded Insight for Living, which airs a radio programme on more than 2000 stations around the world in 15 languages.

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