We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
When I joined St. Thomas UMC, I promised to uphold the church with, among other things, my gifts. This includes both spiritual gifts and monetary gifts. We are each equipped with unique gifts. It is part of our faith journey to discern what our gifts are and how to use them as God intends.
I grew up in a family that was loving and supportive. And one of the “gifts” that was demonstrated to me often was kindness towards others. My mother and grandmother were unfailingly kind to everyone. I admired that and wanted to be like them.
After my confirmation classes in 6th grade, I began to understand what it meant to live a Christian life, something that certainly included being kind. When I was in 8th grade we moved to a small town in Oklahoma. There was a girl in my class who had been born with a club foot and walked with a very noticeable limp. Many of the kids treated her very unkindly, including mocking the way she walked. At the end of middle school, when we entered high school, she did not return to school.
I don’t know if it was because of the way she was treated, if her family moved or what but I can still see her in my mind, including how truly defeated she always looked, her head down, not looking at others, seemingly trying to not even be noticed. I still feel guilty that I did nothing. I didn’t stand up to the bullies, I didn’t treat her kindly, I simply ignored the situation. I clearly failed to be kind.
There are times when we must “step up”, even if risking ridicule from others, to care for people in need. That was perhaps the beginning of my journey to embrace and demonstrate kindness, as I gradually understood how badly I had failed. I promised God to try to practice the gift of kindness in my everyday life.
The Bible is full of examples of God’s kindness to us. Indeed, Jesus’ ministry was full of kindness to others and his selflessness in everything he did. And from His example, we can attempt to demonstrate our faith by also demonstrating the gifts of kindness and empathy for others. In Galatians 5:22-23, we read “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” We need to behave towards others as God has behaved towards us.
Dear Heavenly Father, Every new day gives us an opportunity to demonstrate our love for you through our actions towards others. Help us to always take time to be kind in all we do. In Christ’s Holy name we pray, Amen
About Janie Russell
Janie currently serves as chair of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, as well as secretary for the Finance Committee. She has been at St. Thomas for over 40 years. Helping start the Food Pantry has been especially rewarding to her.