In 2 Corinthians 6:6, Paul lists several characteristics that have enabled him and his followers to overcome the trials he outlines in verses 4 and 5. During our study last week, one of them stood out because of the way Pastor Stedman defined it.
The original word has been described as meaning “the sympathetic kindliness or sweetness of temper which puts others at their ease and shrinks from giving pain.” This attitude was to be shown without respect of persons, whether to a slave or to the emperor himself.
I cringe at my failure to meet that definition. So often I give pain to others or keep them on edge to accomplish my goal. How sad it is that I put myself above another to gain an advantage here and there.
As we were discussing this last week, SU told me of a work acquaintance that has pancreatic cancer, with a terminal prognosis. She told me of her sweet disposition, how she made others around her feel comfortable in her presence. Chemo has stripped her of her hair and weakened her physically but her spirit is triumphant through it all.
She must remain working as long as she can; she is a single mother and needs to provide for her children. I wept thinking of the pain she must feel as she completes a daily routine of mundane tasks, knowing that she is not long for this life. I wept more as I thought about the impact she is having on those around her, making others feel at ease in her presence, knowing that they are uncomfortable and gawking at her.
But the tears are tears of pure joy, ecstatic that someone can hold true during difficult circumstances. At the living example that she is presenting to all who come into contact with her, giving others a glimpse of Christ. I will join with her in her prayer, not to be “cured” but simply to have a little more time to prepare her children for her absence.
And I will rejoice that there are Christians that understand and live out the meaning of kindness.