“You who are Spiritual” (part six)
John D. Telgren

The next virtue is kindness. It would seem that love and kindness are basically talking about the same thing. There is a slight difference in the two. The story of the Ethiopian Eunuch is a good example of kindness.

“Then they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchijah the king's son, which was in the court of the guardhouse; and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. Now in the cistern there was no water but only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud. But Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch, while he was in the king's palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. Now the king was sitting in the Gate of Benjamin; and Ebed-melech went out from the king's palace and spoke to the king, saying, My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet whom they have cast into the cistern; and he will die right where he is because of the famine, for there is no more bread in the city. Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Take thirty men from here under your authority and bring up Jeremiah the prophet from the cistern before he dies. So Ebed-melech took the men under his authority and went into the king's palace to a place beneath the storeroom and took from there worn-out clothes and worn-out rags and let them down by ropes into the cistern to Jeremiah. Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, Now put these worn-out clothes and rags under your armpits under the ropes; and Jeremiah did so. So they pulled Jeremiah up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern, and Jeremiah stayed in the court of the guardhouse (Jer 38:6-13).”

It was charity or love that motivated Ebed-Melech to retrieve Jeremiah from the well. But notice how thoughtful he was. Jeremiah would have been an old man by this time. The ropes used to pull him out would have been very uncomfortable. So Ebed-Melech brought some worn out rags and clothes with him to put under Jeremiah’s arms before pulling him out. That is kindness. It is that unnecessary but beautiful extra we do for others. Love is expected, kindness often is not. It is the sort of thing that melts hearts. It evokes a tear. It is warm. It is indeed a most beautiful virtue.

Can you see why Paul commands in Galatians 6:1 that those who are “spiritual” restore a fallen one with a spirit of gentleness. A person can think he is acting out of love and yet be harsh, abrasive, and even repulsive. That may wind up having the opposite effect upon one we are trying to get unstuck from the mud. As a matter in fact, Paul in his exposition on love in 1 Corinthians 13 says that it is kind. You can’t separate kindness from love.