“... it was kind of you to share my distress.”
— Philippians 4:14 (NRSV)
It was good for the Apostle Paul to experience kindness from the church at Philippi. He had come not so much to expect it; many of the churches he started or that he had fostered relations with had betrayed him in one way or another. Like any minister of the New Covenant, Paul is blessed to feel a reliable sense of trust permeate between himself and those who caused him to rejoice—the Philippians.
Paul had experienced, as we experience, that double kindness halves distress.
In other words, a highly considered level of kindness (caring) lessened significantly the anxiety he experienced. It’s like the Philippians had found creative ways of loving Paul by reducing their burden on him and allowing him the honour of serving them in the capacity of unreserved apostle, teacher and evangelist.
The principle holds. It’s not only our task, but our privilege, as Christians, to double the kindness so as to halve the other person’s distress. We are to lessen others’ burdens. Where we find ourselves adding to the burdens of others, unnecessarily, we really must ask ourselves if we’re remaining in the lap of God’s will.
Kindness lightens people and brings forth creative measures that define love.
Kindness thinks of the other person and people that much it spends itself and sacrifices, without thought for loss. It goes out of its way without looking at the clock.
Kindness is grace and may even be worth more than double itself when it’s deployed in real and tangible ways.
Distress, on the other hand, weakens. It betrays the will and strength of love and seeks a much lower place with which to operate from. Why would we add to anyone’s burden? Why would we despise God this way?
Christians are not to buy into the “I’m hurt” debate. If we’re hurt we deal with it and relinquish it, and we reconcile with the Lord. One shred of bitterness in our hearts reveals we still no longer esteem God as our Lord and the King over our lives. We cannot reject the Lord’s commandments and still hope for intimacy with the Divine—because it’s relational.
Kindness, on the other hand, has realised that hurt will derail us. Kindness can be re-deployed for a time onto us who needs it. We may only add distress to someone if we’re personally ailing.
Kindness reduces burdens and it’s the investment of creative love to the ignition of joy. Our investment of kindness infuses people with a sense of lightness in an otherwise burdensome world. Our task—indeed, our privilege—is to double our kindness and halve another person’s distress through what we may do.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.