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Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness

Faith without works is dead. James 2:26

by Susan Irene Fox

The entire quote from James 2:26 is, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

7000 year old Mesolithic male   Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

7000 year old Mesolithic male
Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

It’s important to understand that James, the brother of Jesus, does not contradict the apostle Paul, who tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) For the very next verse – the very next thing Paul writes is this:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Works is not the basis of faith, but the appropriate result of it.

So why is all this in the seed about kindness?

Because sometimes, we Christians (and I include myself here) tend to think of works as service projects or mission trips or volunteering at church or tithing.  We say we’ll pray for someone, then we do or don’t, and never follow up. Yet we never think of works as being kind and compassionate.

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? James 2:15-16

I remember a morning nearly a year ago that still haunts me. I had just come out of the grocery store, placed my few bags in the trunk of my car, unlocked the door and sat behind the wheel. I started the motor and looked up. Sitting before me, on a cold, metal bench in front of the entrance to the grocery was a man who was obviously homeless: his clothes were tattered, he was dirty, his hair was unkempt.

I don’t know why, but I froze in my seat. He looked straight at me, and I can still recall his eyes, which were the bluest I have ever seen. Why I did not get out of my car, return to the store and buy him food and warm coffee I do not know to this day. Every time I remember the scene, I recall Matthew 25:44-45, “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’”

My kindness and compassion left me in that moment, and I have regretted it ever since.

We must be continually aware of not only our brothers and sisters in Christ, but our neighbors. We must see them as children of God. We must offer our hands and hearts in kindness and compassion as our works of faith. We never know when others hide pain or heartache, when we, with a smile or a gesture or a prompting from the Holy Spirit, can serve to be someone’s angel of compassion.

~~~

Angel of Compassion

by Olaina Kim

I met an angel late one night

she wandered right into my room

solemnly I sat, about to write

moving tales of grief and gloom

disturbing facts could fit a crime

recalling fragments of my shift

that often stay  with me a time.

 

I do remember tears that rain

Shedding such sorrows, unyielding stress

I’ve learned to accept their despair

of whiles of sadness and distress;

 

They’re stored in splinters everywhere

the attic of my cluttered mind,

in nooks and crannies here and there

of hurt and sorrow, the ugly kind.

 

If I allow for this to fester

in unknown bytes inside my brain

they may not go, and simply linger,

I’ll know not how to free the pain.

 

I’ve now discovered a new process

that helps unleash these murky stains

that echoes screams of endless pain

I now set free with recklessness

the bits and pieces that remain

they relocate and find a space,

and make its home another place.

My new approach is really simple

I act! Don’t say, just act and pray

I write, transcribe, sometimes I scribble

hoping the stories will  go away.

 

I hear the undertones and tears

lamenting souls, disturbing fears,

unleashed in prose and poems and tales,

tears turn to rain and raging gales.

 

I always wondered about their fate,

such anguish needs to hibernate

to feel embraced and be remembered

they need a home not kept asunder,

deserve a witness of their grief

acknowledging a past disturbed

too much abuse that has occurred. 

 

I look up from my desk and see

an angel standing close to me

she’s waiting there so patiently

as I unleash this flood of pain

she saves the flow of tender words

her arms are filled with misery

she hugs the woes so tenderly

of broken hearts and shattered souls

this angel standing on my right

awaits my words, I give, she takes…

I feel my heart unburdened… light!

 

I know for sure I’ll sleep tonight,

this angel came to me last night

appeased and freed my heart and soul

and now it feels so good and light;

 

I know for sure I’ll sleep tonight

so I’ll continue on my flight

listening to tales of woe and fright

but that’s tomorrow not tonight…

I know for sure I’ll sleep tonight.

~~~

Sometimes, pain is deep and restoration takes a lifetime. Our words can either create distance or can bring life. They can isolate or they can offer an oasis of kindness, tenderness and compassion in a desert of loneliness, pain and grief. We never know what hurts are deep inside someone’s core. We see them once a week at church, brush by them as we take our seat, and forget them until the following Sunday.

Look into someone’s eyes this week. Allow your faith to work through compassion and kindness.

To end on a lighter note, here are some things we can say more often in kindness.

20 Things We Should Say More Often http://bit.ly/1ee1H0z

Angel of Compassion copyright 2014, Oliana Kim

Oliana Kim writes prose and poetry and posts at

Traces of the Soul http://tracesofthesoul.wordpress.com where she writes “whatever comes to mind…sometimes it can be a bit raw, other times serious and pensive and many times, I hope, just being able to laugh at myself when I get into situations that may not be fun but that no one can change…so may as well laugh about it.”

This blog can also be seen at Susan Irene Fox http://susanirenefox.com/2014/03/14/fruit-of-the-spirit-kindness/