by Warren Baldwin
“What is desirable in a man is his kindness; and it is better to be a poor man than a liar.” Proverbs 19:22. (NASB).
Mmmmmm, don’t know about this one. “What is desirable in a man is his kindness …” I guess it depends on who you are and what you are looking for.
If you are the coach of a professional football team, and you need a good quarterback RIGHT NOW, you may not care if the guy you are trying to recruit says “thank you” to the waitress, or if he smiles politely when he signs autographs. What you desire in this man is that he can move the football ten yards, then another ten yards. Speed, determination, drive, even a degree of ruthlessness, are what you desire in this man. But kindness?
The Hebrew word for kindness is “hesed.” Hesed means steadfast love or kindness. And let’s face it, there are a lot of qualities that our world values above love or kindness. Do we care if our stockbroker is a loving man who hugs his children when he goes home at night? Or do we care more that he can turn a profit for us?
Do we esteem love or kindness in a boxer? Think how that can mess a match-up, if a boxer pauses to apologize to his opponent for hurting him with that vicious right. “I love you man…. here let me help you up.”
But God values love and kindness. My three kids value love and kindness in their dad. My wife does in her husband. And when I don’t treat them with love and kindness, they hurt.
And there is another word for hesed: loyalty. Loyalty is the quality of hanging in there with someone through thick and thin. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Prov. 17:17). “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Prov. 18:24).
Solomon says, “These qualities are what God is looking for in a man. Others may value some other professional quality or athletic skill, but to build a quality life, a man needs love, kindness, and loyalty. I’d rather see you a poor man with godly character than have you resort to a success-at-any-cost mentality. Using worldly techniques may help you achieve a level of success that will get you in People magazine, but you will not become the kind of man I am looking for.”
I’m thinking of a certain man’s life based on this quality of hesed: love, kindness, and loyalty. This man never owned a house. He was never elected mayor and was never the “Citizen of the Year.” His investment portfolio was … well, it wasn’t. Didn’t have one. These achievements never registered as important for him.
Instead, he spent his life investing in the lives of others. He was a caregiver to the sick. He mourned with mourners and wept with the brokenhearted. He stopped along the trail to pat a child on the head and even stooped to give a hug. He defended the defenseless against the religious and civic power brokers of his day, placing himself in jeopardy for doing so.
This man exhibited all the qualities of hesed, but what did he have to show for it toward the end of his days? “The Son of man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). The world may not value hesed. But God does. That is why, after the world rejected Jesus, his Father honors him even today as the Glorified Son. Resurrected, ascended, in the presence of the Father.
What is desirable in a man is his kindness, his love, his loyalty. God desires those qualities. And I’ll bet your wife does, too. Or your husband, your children, your parents. And the world might even begin to value them, if it sees hesed demonstrated in your life … with God’s power for today.
by Warren Baldwin