“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”Micah 6:8
In a world where fear and steadfastness are the most popular scriptural topics to discuss right now, I want to stop and focus on this one word: Kindness.
It’s been amazing to see the growth of kind words and actions in local communities during this pandemic. There are people supporting those who have lost jobs (temporarily), gotten sick, and those who are self-quarantining to avoid sickness.
This month has been very scary for a lot of people, even me, but it’s been like an x-ray on the character of the people around us.
The worldwide pandemic has caused people to focus on their priorities a little more. With travel bans and stay-at-home orders, we’ve been forced to decide what matters to us. How are we going to spend our time, who are we going to spend our time with, what will we spend our money on, etc.
Our priorities have been exposed. Our intentions are now clearer than they’ve ever been.
We know how kindness looks to the world around us—tolerance, smiling, small acts of good deeds—but how does the Bible shed light on true kindness, and what does God expect of us during these uncertain times?
First Things First, What Is Kindness?
R. C. Sproul defines kind people as “not rude, not severe, not mean. They have generous hearts. They are sensitive and tender to other people.”
Selflessness is a primary characteristic of kindness; putting aside your own feelings and doing the right thing for someone else whether they deserve it or not.
“Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering.”C.S. Levis
In this sense, we can’t use the excuse that whoever receives our kindness wouldn’t return it, or would simply fall away and need help again. Whatever they choose to do with our act of kindness, we were at least kind. In some way, we helped relieve their suffering, even if it was self-inflicted.
Stephen Witner describes the characteristics of kindness as supernatural. Meaning, they aren’t human, they aren’t earthly, they aren’t from this world at all. They’re from God, Who works beyond natural power and ability. They are Spirit-produced, a “generous orientation of our hearts towards other people,” actions that reflect the heart of our Father (which requires knowing Him well).
Witner also says “kindness is underrated,” and I fully agree. I think it is one of the most powerful fruits of the Spirit, especially when paired with any other fruit. It has the most power to do good, because it is not tied to any personal feelings toward other people, it is a simple moral question of right or wrong. It is good to be kind.
Is it Really Required?
Yes, yes it is. And just like any other characteristic required by God, it isn’t an easy one to live by day-to-day. It has to be cultivated and nurtured, practiced, and intentional.
“Staying away from sin is insufficient…we must also cultivate righteous living.”Sproul
It isn’t enough to simply avoid doing bad things, we must make an effort to do the good things, too.
There is no such thing as stasis when it comes to a true faith. If you aren’t growing, then you’re dying away. A plant that isn’t cared for or watered will eventually wither away and die. It’s the same way with our faith. If we aren’t nurturing it and growing, then we’re going to blend in more and more with the weeds, and eventually be choked up by them.
The Necessity of Kindness: As Told by C.S. Lewis
“The real trouble is that ‘kindness’ is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.
Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices that ‘his heart’s in the right place’ and he ‘wouldn’t hurt a fly,’ though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature. We think we are kind when we are only happy: it is not so easy, on the same grounds, to imagine oneself temperate, chaste, or humble.”
It is necessary that we don’t simply attribute kindness with happiness, they are separate things with separate qualities. It doesn’t take much to smile at someone who’s been good to you, or if your life is going swell. But take away your happy situation, would you still be kind to someone else who is suffering?
Kindness Starts With Yourself
This concept is something I came across several times while preparing to write this, and honestly it kind of rubbed me wrong at first. It seemed selfish, worldly, and like the typical “love yourself” kind of pep talk.
But thinking about it a little more, it’s honestly so true. We were created by a loving God Who does want us to be kind to ourselves, to respect the body He gave us, and to take seriously the life He set before us.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Being kind to yourself takes effect in two ways:
- You have to be kind to yourself. Wake up each morning and remember that God chose to create you. You serve a purpose in His ultimate plan. Even if you don’t see it, or it’s something small, or you haven’t fulfilled it yet, you aren’t a small thing to Him. We are His sheep, and He’ll search for every last one of us when we’re lost. He sees the sparrows fall, how much more will He consider us? Pick yourself up and take care of yourself. Give your body and mind what they need to stay healthy.
- Believe that Christ died in our place
- Believe that God has forgiven all our sins
- In order to be kind, we must be forgiven, and believe it.
- Believe that we are loved by God
- You have to choose to be kind to others. You have to make the decision to start the act of kindness. Humble yourself enough to make that decision, it’s not that anyone earned or deserved your kindness. It’s our duty to set our selfish pride aside for the sake of others.
What Does Kindness Look Like?
“I have found that it is the small, everyday deed of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”J.R.R. Tolkien
Kindness looks like pure speech, pure conduct, pure motives (2 Cor 6:6). It is characterized by compassion, humility, and selflessness. It’s someone doing something small for someone who didn’t necessarily ask for it.
It is an act of good intention without expectation of returned action.
You know all of those stories you read of people saving stranger’s lives and then just disappearing? You never learn their name, they never ask for thanks or glory or recognition, they were simply being nice to someone in need. That’s kindness.
Letting someone go ahead of you at the grocery store, or slowing down for the person trying to get over on the interstate, smiling at the person taking your order at the restaurant, all count as random acts of kindness.
“Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God? Or do you despise the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? For He will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life, while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.”Romans 2:3-4, 6-8
It is necessary for our repentance and forgiveness that we act kindly, doing good patiently. I think it’s also important to recognize that God is being kind to us through our suffering and difficult times. We aren’t being unnecessarily tested, and God is going to make sure we get to the end of each trial. It would be less kind to us if we were to stop halfway through our tests, missing the end result and satisfaction.
“Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also have been cut off.“Romans 11:22
This passage in context is referring to the branches of the tree being grafted in. Essentially, you don’t have to come from the direct line of Christ to be Christian, God is weaving into the very tree of life those Who love Him and believe in Him, no matter their family line. He is also cutting off the branches that have pulled away and rejected Him, the root and trunk.
Aesop once wrote “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” I fully agree with this statement, and believe as a Christian this holds true for us more than others.
Our acts of kindness directly reflect the character of our God. They show people what our God is like, Who He is to us, and how His existence changes our hearts and attitudes towards other people.
We become happier, kinder people the more we practice kindness too, and what better witness to Christ than happy, kind, joyful people filling the earth? Especially during the last few weeks, and next few months, when fear and uncertainty are more prevalent than any other feeling.
We have a certainty in our God and in our faith in Him, and so we should not fear. We can know with absolute 100% certainty that God will provide exactly what we need.
Let me say here: This does not mean that we will get exactly what we want. Our needs are not the same as our wants, and our needs may not even be what we know we need. We have to trust that God, Who designed the universe and everything in it, knows better than we do what needs to happen next.
All we must do is trust in Him, and be kind to His creation.
A Prayer for all us Mountain Goats
I sincerely pray for the health and wellbeing of each and every one of you. I pray that you find the strength within you, from the Holy Spirit, to be kind to those around you, even when it’s hard. I pray that you remember Who it is Who has saved you from your sin. And I pray that thought brings you so much joy to think about that you can’t help but overflow that joy to those around you. I pray this era of fear and uncertainty we are currently living through can bring out the best in God’s people, that we are strengthened and encouraged to grow and learn about God and our relationship to Him.
Don’t ever stop praying. Stay Kind.
IT’S ABOUT IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH. THAT INCLUDES FINDING YOUR REASON TO STAY, CREATING POSITIVE CHANGE FOR YOURSELF, AND CREATING POSITIVE CHANGE FOR OTHERS.
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Christian, Writer, Coffee Addict
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