I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. (Isaiah 63:7)
KINDNESS: Good will; benevolence; that temper or disposition which delights in contributing to the happiness of others, which is exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants or alleviating their distresses; benignity of nature. Kindness ever accompanies love.
There appears to be a call for kindness in our Western Society today that is powering much of what we see. A generation of people who recognize the power of kindness and who are seeking to change humanity in such a way as to make it the prevalent thought to us all. While Kindness is something we as Christians are called to have and do, this kindness they seem to want and separated from the other characteristics of God cannot provide the result that actually desire.
If our acts of “kindness” are about what makes us feel good, then it is not really kindness. Kindness is about helping each other. It is not just about making someone feel better in the moment, it is about helping them, and sometimes they may not see it as kindness when it is happening. You see when kindness is isolated from the rest of God’s Character it is like a wheel with only one spoke or a table from which three legs are taken.
So what is Kindness? Yes kindness is paying for the meal of a stranger. Kindness is helping a friend with a home project. Kindness is adopting a rescue dog from a kennel. Kindness is noticing someone in pain and seeking to assist or intercede. Kindness is respecting another’s decision. Kindness is protecting the weak. Kindness is loaning your car when another’s is in the shop. Kindness is a smile and a heartfelt “Thank You”. Kindness is helping a stranger change a tire. Kindness is picking up litter you did not discard and kindness is taking time to both listen and to hear.
But kindness is also more. Let us imagine that you and a friend were walking together at night and it is very dark. Your friend is a very decisive person and usually takes the lead on most occasions. They tend to get upset when they are challenged and so you normally just follow along and agree. This particular night your friend has decided the direction to go and is stepping out boldly toward the goal. As you travel along you are to the left and a small moonbeam reveals to you that a ditch is crossing the path you are taking. You hesitate to bring this up with your friend as you know they will resent the challenge. Is kindness remaining silent and sparing their feelings and avoiding the conflict OR is kindness warning them of the danger that lies before them and chancing a clash?
I would hope that we would all agree that warning our friend of the ditch is the true kindness in this situation. Kindness requires truth in order to truly be kind. I am not talking about our perception of truth here I am talking about THE TRUTH as God reveals it to us. Our kindness must be as is the Character of God and cannot be isolated from His other Character traits as it will then cease to be kindness. We can warn our friend in as kind a manner as possible but make no mistake warn him we must if we are to truly be kind.
This principle can be applied to many other situations. A friend who is in an adulterous relationship. A woman overwhelmed by an unplanned pregnancy and looking to end her baby’s life. Someone who is trapped in an addiction and who is slowly killing themselves. Someone who has turned from their faith. Someone trapped in the pit of depression and unwilling to seek help. Anyone who is unaware or disbelieves that Jesus WILL return and that we must be ready for Him. Kindness is not just giving people what they desire it is giving them what they need and we all need Love and Truth and Kindness. The Bible teaches and I believe that TRUE kindness is undeserved AND will always have a cost. We can see this in the action of God.
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
When we are weary and discouraged it is hard to be kind. We are caught up in all that is happening to us and not in those around us. But I can assure you the fastest route to refreshment and encouragement lies in being kind to those around us in the same ways God is kind to us. True peace and joy are found in modeling the Character of Jesus, the Character of God, and we cannot do that without an intimate knowledge of Him. The Apostle Peter put it this way:
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)
These are building blocks for our life. Christ is our foundation and these building blocks are like bricks we use to build our lives on that foundation. But there is not one called faith; there are hundreds or even thousands. There is not one brick of perseverance but hundreds or even thousands, and there is not one brick of kindness; there should be hundreds or even thousands. And all of them lay row by row on top of the others, they are the Character of God and should be the building materials of our lives.
God is laying a challenge before us:
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
He is challenging us to be kind as He has been kind to us. He is challenging us to be loving as He has been loving to us. He is challenging us to be truthful as He has been truthful to us. He is challenging us to do this every day in every way. Ask Him to open your eyes, to cast aside the scales that blind us and to help us see the need and the way to be kind to everyone around us. God can change this world through us if we just follow His example and model His Character.