George Augustus Henry Sala: Watchful kindness

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Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:2-6

“In the intercourse of social life, it is by little acts of watchful kindness recurring daily and hourly — and opportunities of doing kindnesses if sought for are ever starting up — it is by words, by tones, by gestures, by looks, that affection is won and preserved. He who neglects these trifles, yet boasts that whenever a great sacrifice is called for, he shall be ready to make it, will rarely be loved. The likelihood is, he will not make it; and if he does it will be much rather for his own sake than for his neighbor’s.”

Perkins in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 475.

Sala uses a good term “watchful kindness” to describe how we have opportunities all the time to show kindness to others, and to reveal our others-centered Christian faith.

For those seeking to grow the kindness in their generosity, he offers a good list: words, tones, gestures, and looks. With these devices we can dispense kindness.

What’s interesting about this is that when we “neglect these trifles” as Sala puts it, we reveal that maybe our actions are really just for ourselves rather than others.

The Apostle Paul would suggest to add prayer to the mix. This way, the Spirit of God will guide you and bless others through you as you serve as an agent of watchful kindness.