One of my favorite TV shows is NCIS. One of the reasons I like it is that the characters come across as real people with real-life problems and struggles. In one episode, Agent Torres is obsessed throughout the show on trying to fix a pair of sunglasses that he accidentally broke. Throughout the show, no one understands why he is so intense and focused on a cheap pair of sunglasses. It is not until the end of the episode that he reveals to Agent Bishop that the sunglasses were a gift from a former agent who had been killed in the line of duty. He related, “They were a gift… from Reeves,” Nick tells Bishop. “He was wearing them one day to the gym, and I was like… ‘hey, cool shades.’ But I didn’t really like them, I was just being sarcastic. The next morning, they were on my desk. “He bought you a pair?” She asks. “He gave me his,” he admits. “Yeah, well… he was kind,” she says. “The kindest… I miss my buddy,” he says, and she replies she misses him too.

It’s interesting that “Love is Kind” follows “Love is Patient.” Several years ago, a study was done by a TV program on how people respond behind someone at a red light who doesn’t go. In the study they had someone stop a car at a red light and wait for someone to come up behind them. When the light turned green the test car remained in position and did not move. They did this in three areas of the country, South, East Coast, and West Coast. They started in a city in the South. The car behind waited through two red lights before just going around the car in front. On the West Coast the car behind waited through one light then honked their horn when the light changed green again. On the East Coast the car behind honked their horn as soon as the light turned. Patience and kindness often work together. I think that’s why Paul probably put them together.

Several years ago, while I was making some hospital visits, I went by the room of a son of one of our members who was dying from AIDS. It was sad to see him wasting away and his mother with eyes swollen from tears watching him slowly dying. There wasn’t anything I could do for him but pray. Instead of just saying the prayer I reached out and took his hand. It was a surprise to his mother since most people were afraid to touch someone with a disease such as this. Not long after the young man died. Years later, his mother came up to me after Bible class. “I still remember and thank you for when you came to the hospital, took my son’s hand and prayed with us.”

It was a simple gesture, but an act of kindness that she cherished four years later. Kindness is one thing that can be given away and doesn’t have to cost us a dime. I remember the time that one of the ladies at church was too short for her feet to reach the floor. One of the men of the congregation saw this and decided to do something about it. The next time she came to worship, there was a stool for her to rest her feet upon. She never knew who put it there.

A while back, my wife and I stayed at a hotel in San Antonio. As we left the first morning, we left $5 for the maid and thanked her for doing so well in cleaning our room. We came back later that day and as we were leaving a housekeeper stopped us and asked if we were room so and so. We said we were, and she proceeded to thank us for the gift. Since then we always leave a little something for the cleaning service, just a small act of kindness for what they do.

Kindness may just be saying thank you to a waiter or waitress who serves you at a restaurant. It may be picking up merchandise on the floor of a store and returning it to the shelf. It may be holding a door open for someone or passing up a parking place so the people behind you can have it, even if you have to walk an extra distance yourself. It may be waiting patiently as a new person is trained at the cash register or simply telling someone you appreciate how they helped you.

The writer of Proverbs wrote, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” A kind word can make a person’s day. It can give them hope that life is better than they thought.

The story is told of Abraham Lincoln visiting a battlefield hospital during the Civil War. He approached the bed of a soldier who was dying and who did not recognize Lincoln. The young man asked Lincoln to write a note to his parents expressing his love to them and his family. The young man weak and dying could say very little, so Lincoln concluded the letter, “written for your son by Abraham Lincoln.”

The young man asked to see the letter and upon seeing Lincoln’s name apologized for not recognizing his commander in chief. Lincoln then asked if there was anything else, he could do. He requested that Lincoln hold his hand during his final moments of life. Lincoln sat holding the young man’s hand until sunrise when the young man passed away. It was a simple act of kindness from the most powerful man in the country for someone he had known less than 24 hours.

Simple acts of kindness are free to give and valuable to receive. Although the $5 cost me a little, it wasn’t about the money, it was about the simple act of showing someone we cared.

So today, hold a hand, open a door, and say thank you, praise good work, smile and share the gift of kindness with everyone you meet.

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ.

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