“A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.” – Proverbs 11:17
Ted was a checker at large supermarket located in our former neighborhood. He had been there a long time and almost all the regular shoppers knew him. Ted had this slow steady rhythm about him when he checked people out, not nearly as fast as some of the younger checkout clerks. Yet amazingly, customers would go out of their way to be in his lane rather than the shorter, faster ones – simply because they wanted to be checked out by Ted. The reason was simple. Ted always had a friendly smile, a story to tell, a conversation to carry on, and he new all the regular customers by name. But mostly it was because he was a genuinely kind and gentle man.
The teenage son of one of our close friends entered the store one day in need of some emergency cash and had not been able to get in touch with his parents. Without batting an eye, Ted pulled out his wallet and handed the young man a hundred-dollar bill, the only stipulation being to pay it back whenever he could. The boy’s parents, of course, saw to it that he was promptly repaid. But that’s the kind of person Ted was.
Then one day we learned that Ted’s beloved wife had passed away after a lengthy illness. And not too long afterwards Ted was forced to retire due to health issues of his own. Sometime later I ran into him in a Home Depot store, the first time I had seen him since his retirement. I expressed to him my condolences over the loss of his wife, that he had been in my thoughts and prayers, and how much we all missed him in the supermarket. In his usual kind, cheerful manner he responded that he missed seeing us too. Then he said this, “So many people like you have been so kind. I think I must be the most prayed over and loved man on the face of the earth.”
And no wonder; for “A kind man benefits himself” (in contrast to “a cruel man brings trouble on himself”), and Ted was a living example of that. Why else would customers go out or their way to be in his checkout lane at the grocery store? Or why did so many grieve with him in his loss, pray for him in his time of need, and miss him when he was no longer around? Why else did he feel he was the most loved man on the face of the earth? It had to do with Ted being a kind man, and kindness begets kindness, does it not?