The Oxford Dictionary defines kindness as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. Other words to describe kindness include affection, gentleness, warmth, concern and care. These are all terms used to express the affection felt from a family member or a dearest friend. Sadly, kindness can also be perceived as being weak, and though you’ve likely heard the phrase, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” by Tennessee Williams from A Streetcar Named Desire – that description is rarely used today. We are more self-centered and inconsiderate than ever. With swirling politics, staunch positions and uncompromising perspectives bringing such division and breeding dog-eat-dog behavior. The act of kindness, especially in the face of hate or abuse, is anything but weak, often requiring great courage and strength. That is why kindness’ greatest power is revealed when practiced towards one’s enemies. Kindness, like any act, has a profound effect on not only the person being kind, but the recipient of that kindness, as well.
Kindness is not lost on the Bible. As a prime model, we needn’t look any further than to Jesus Christ. Jesus is said to be the perfect emblem of Biblical kindness. Elohei Chasdi, one of the many Hebrew names used to express the fullness of Jesus Christ, can be translated as God of my Kindness (Psalms 59:11-18).
Wait, it keeps getting better. Did you know that kindness is one of the nine fruits of the spirit? That means we, as Christians, can tap into this source whenever we want. “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT). As believers of Christ, Galatians reminds us why kindness becomes a part of who we are. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” (Galatians 5:24-25 NLT).
“When God our savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:4-5 NLT). It continues to be a good practice to read my Bible and fully grasp the status of my moral center. The Bible is my ABC’s on how to be the best person, believer, follower, wife, mother and everything under the sun. It is as my, “Hitchhikers Guide” to this Universe, if you will.
A great biblical example of kindness appears in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37. The parable teaches the act of kindness in the form of love and compassion. It tells of a man walking along a road who is then suddenly attacked, robbed, beaten and left hurting. One man passes by and ignores him, and then another. The Bible says later that a Samaritan (a people group reviled by the Jewish listeners who would have been hearing this parable at the time) came upon the man and had compassion on him. Jesus then explains why the Samaritan is considered the “neighbor” to the man who fell among the robbers. Without even knowing this man, the Samaritan thought not of himself, his wealth or reputation, but first of the man in need. Maybe the Samaritan identified with the man; or maybe he realized that it could have been him who was beaten and robbed. Whatever the motivation to show the stranger kindness, the Samaritan reflects Jesus teachings of Luke 10:27 to love your neighbor as yourself. And in the same breath, Jesus tears down the cultural stereotypes and biases towards Samaritans held by his listeners of the day.
The examples of kindness throughout the Bible, especially in the form of God’s lovingkindness are so numerous – but I want to share one more. The Bible says, “Never let loyalty and kindness leave you… then you will find favor…seek his (the LORD) will in all you do and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:3-6 NLT). Kindness is one guide in following God’s will.
Sadly in our world today, kindness has lost its value. But as we see from some of the examples in Scripture, kindness is to be shown in all of our interactions with others. It is a gift from God through the work of the Holy Spirit, and taught by Jesus Christ. We can no longer walk past. Now, more than ever, we need to bring kindness back. We have to especially show the younger generation’s constant examples of kindness. We can hold the door for one another; allow someone to go ahead of us in line. Smile with compassion at the clerk whose line is one person too long and everyone is staring at him or her as if it’s their fault.
People are said to respond to and are attracted to kindness that is genuine and selfless. Kindness is planted in others, like seeds being planted in a garden. As Christians this seed we plant is God’s to develop. The act of kindness you give may communicate to another person that they are loved by God, that they are seen and heard, and that they matter.
Kindness can ignite a relationship. Kindness can provoke a change in the life of the receiver, or make the receiver feel forgiven. John 8:3-5 comes to mind. “As Jesus was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. ‘Teacher,’ they said to Jesus, ‘This woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?’”
The Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus, but Jesus knew it. In versus 7 of John chapter 8, we learn that Jesus writes something in the sand and then tells the crowd to let the one who has not sinned cast the first stone. The Bible tells that the accusers heard this and one by one they walked away. I have always believed that Jesus wrote sins in the sand. Sins like lying, envy, lust, and greed. Sins that most of us have been guilty of – and without Jesus – would still rule our lives today.
“Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, ‘Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’ ‘No, Lord,’ she said and Jesus said, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more’” (John 8:10-11 NLT). Jesus loving kindness changed her life. We can honor the kingdom of God and share his love on earth when we show kindness to (and forgiveness towards) our children, our spouses or a stranger. Jesus’ kindness is so great that it extends to forgiveness. We are reminded of the times we deserved to be “stoned” yet mercy and kindness took its place. There is a line in one of my favorite church songs that says, God’s love and mercy is so great that he does not treat us as our sins deserve.
Take a moment and reflect on how much the world has been changed because of the kindness of Jesus. I leave you with one last quote from author Robert Strand devotional book on Kindness; he writes “Kindness given is not a kindness lost- it is an investment that has eternal reward.”
Christopher Scott says
Thanks for sharing this article, Crystal.