A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

In the hysteria of protest marches like “Me first” and “I’m fighting for my rights,” have we lost sight of one law, a principle, given to us by God, that would so wonderfully ease human relationships? That “law” is found in Proverbs 31:26:

In her tongue is the law of kindness.

The noble woman described in Proverbs 31 was determined always, always to respond with kindness, no matter the provocation or the circumstances. Why should our contacts with others always be with kindness? Ephesians 4:32 plainly explains:

And be kind one to another,
forgiving one another,
Even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you.

God says we have a deep obligation to be kind to others, because He was so infinitely kind to us in forgiving our sins through Jesus.

But what do we see in far too many encounters every day? Someone bellowing at a waitress because a menu item is not available. . . . horns blaring in the home-going traffic to cut someone off. . . . the acid voice of a supervisor, publicly reproving a worker so other employees will be afraid. . . . deliberate malice in the office gossip, standing around the coffee dispenser. . . . a bitter church member criticizing a struggling single mother over a child’s misbehavior. . . . a sister’s contemptuous opinion of her siblings. How few of us are really kind!

But my heart remembers with such gratitude the gift of kindness that so very many people have offered me through the years when they had no way of knowing how urgently I needed it.

I came out of the post office to find an old man, an African-American, standing by my car. “I waited to tell you your back right tire is going flat. I was afraid you wouldn’t see it.” Since I have full road-help coverage, I normally wouldn’t have panicked. But Walt was nearing the end of his dark journey into Alzheimer’s, and I was exhausted. “No,” he said gently and quickly, “it’s not flat yet. You can easily drive on it. Just go right over to Haywood Road, across from the mall. There’s a discount tire place there—they’ll take you right in.” And that’s exactly what I did. The kindness of a stranger—how I was comforted!

I was at the McDonald’s drive-through window. The kids were hungry; Walt was out of town; I was so tired I dreaded trying to cook. I gave my order. (My memory is that every child got his own hamburger, but had to share french fries and a shake!) At the pay window, the clerk said, “The woman in the car in front of you has paid for your order.” I never got to thank whoever it was, but the memory of her kindness still warms me.

I was with son-in-law Tim in the impossible traffic of I-85. Every driver seemed edgy and impatient. But when Tim saw a semi waiting on an entry ramp, trying to merge into the traffic, he always slowed down and motioned them in. Why? “They have to drive so far, and work so hard, and it’s so lonely,” he said. Kindness! Yes, and often at personal cost. . . . for someone he’d never met . . . . absolutely counterintuitive. . . . but obeying the law of kindness.

How often have I missed the privilege of showing kindness, like the incredible kindness God gave me in Jesus?