A portrait of kindness is found in Clifton Fadiman’s book, The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes. The person exhibiting the kindness is Cecil John Rhodes, the South African statesman and financier. He was of English birth but emigrated to South Africa for health reasons. Rhodes’ will stipulated that a portion of his fortune was to be used for endowing Rhodes scholarships.
“Rhodes was a stickler for correct dress and behavior, but not at the expense of someone else’s feelings. A young man invited to dine with him in Kimberley arrived by train and had to go directly to Rhodes’s house in his travel-stained clothes. Here he was appalled to find the other guests already assembled, wearing full evening dress. Feeling very uncomfortable, he waited with the rest of the company for their host to appear. After what seemed a long time, Rhodes finally appeared, in a shabby old blue suit. The young man later learned that when he arrived Rhodes had been dressed in evening clothes and was about to welcome his guests. Told of the traveler’s dilemma, Rhodes had at once returned to his room and put on an old suit.”
Rhodes took the time and went out of his way to be kind … to make that one guest feel comfortable in his home. The other guests may at first have felt overdressed, but I suspect that they recognized the kindness of their host.
I sincerely believe that kindness, which is a fruit of the Spirit, is one that takes time to show. I believe that such kindness involves going out of one’s way … going the extra mile to comfort someone, to help someone, and to provide encouragement or support.
The country artist, Glen Campbell long ago sang a song which became quite popular. Among its lyrics were these lines:
You’ve got to try a little kindness, yes, show a little kindness; Yes, shine your light for everyone to see.
It is a fitting reminder for us every day!
O Lord, help me to be kind and to show kindness every day. Help me to shine Your light for everyone to see. These things I ask in the name of Jesus, our kind and gentle Savior. Amen.
Clifton Fadiman, gen. ed. The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.1985, pp. 467-468.