Hetty Green was quite possibly the most unkind person of her day. She was the heiress to a whaling fortune who then made even more money trading in stocks and bonds. Hetty received some terrible advice during her life that contributed to her terrible attitude toward people. She said, “My father told me never to give anyone anything, not even a kindness.” She had a tremendous amount of money and an ability to use it to better her fellow-man, yet instead decided to hoard it, not even spending it on herself. When Hetty turned 21 in 1856 and inherited $7.5 million, she refused to light the candles on her cake but instead, returned them to the store for a refund. Hetty’s cruelness earned her the nickname, “the Witch of Wall Street.” She died a friendless woman in a shabby apartment in New Jersey in 1916.
The Bible has much to say about kindness. Micah tells us that all the Lord requires of us is “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Paul tells us, “…as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12). Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and mentions love, kindness, and goodness among the things that the Spirit produces.
Kindness is too seldom practiced in our society. If someone cuts us off in traffic, we try to cut them off. If Wal-Mart is slow ringing up and sacking our groceries, we blast the cashier. If a mail-order company incorrectly fills our order, we call them up and let them know that they are terrible people. If an unkind word is said to us, we say two unkind words back. Instead of being kind, all too often we justify our cruel actions by saying, “they started it” or “they brought it on themselves,” etc.
Acts 9 contains a story about a woman named Tabitha (or Dorcas in Greek). Luke tells us “…this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did” (Acts 9:36). When she died, the whole town turned out for the funeral and showed Peter the garments that Tabitha had made for them. The legacy that Tabitha left behind is far greater than the legacy Hetty Green left. The only difference between the two women was in the kindness they showed. Tabitha abounded in kindness. Hetty refused to show any at all. How will people remember us when we are gone? How will the Lord receive us on Judgment Day? Let us all strive to be kind to everyone we come in contact with, regardless of their actions toward us, so we can live in Heaven with our infinitely kind Father.