This week, the Lord has been repeatedly drawing my attention to a very beautiful quality: kindness.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but kindness seems to be pretty ‘in’ right now! Perhaps you’ve heard about people carrying out these ‘Random acts of Kindness, in which kind deeds are bestowed on unsuspecting recipients, with absolutely no strings attached – apart from perhaps inspiring them to ‘Pay it Forward’ by doing something kind to someone else. An example would be paying someone’s bill in a café, or leaving some coins selo-taped to a vending machine for whoever should next come along, with a post-it-note saying: “Treat yourself to something nice!
I love these kind of stories…they warm the cockles of the heart, don’t they?!
“But remember, boy, that a kind act can sometimes be as powerful as a sword.” – Rick Riordan, The Battle of the Labyrinth.
But what exactly is kindness? What does it look like? Is it giving someone your last Rolo? Or baking a cake for a new neighbour? Is it a natural quality that some people are just born with? Or is it a choice? Well…I decided to delve into the scriptures to find out. I didn’t get very far! It seems kindness is an ocean, and I’ve only paddled in the shallows. But here’s what I learned from just four verses:
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you – Ephesians 4:32
Kindness is tender-hearted. It’s warm. It receives others with openness and understanding. Kindness is having a heart that is soft and malleable, not hard and unyielding.
Kindness forgives…The more a person ‘gets’ how gracious God has been to them, the more they are able to extend kindness and forgiveness to others. The kindness of God is meant to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Now I’m no expert, but if studies were conducted, my guess would be that some of the kindest people on earth would also turn out to be the most thankful to God.
But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, for He Himself is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” – Luke 6:35
Kindness is giving to others who may never repay you or even seem to appreciate your kindness. So hooray for all those times when you’ve washed up, cleared up, picked up, hoovered up, put up and shut up- and nobody seemed to appreciated it! Sometimes the arena where our kindness is most acutely tested is in our own homes with our nearest and dearest! And how about loving our enemies? It’s easy to be kind to the kind. Genuine kindness is demonstrated by our Heavenly Father who is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself” – Proverbs 11:17
The great thing about kindness is it’s a bit like a boomerang. You throw it out and somewhere down the line it’s going to come back and bop you on the head! (It’s worth noting at this point that cruelty works in the same way too – ouch!) And even if people do not repay you, God most certainly will! In fact, the reward for kindness is the highest of all honours: You will be sons of the Most High. Wow!
Put on then, as God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience – Colossians 3:12
Kindness is fitting apparel for the people of God. Kindness belongs in the same closet as compassion, humility, meekness and patience. By the help of the Holy Spirit, we are to ‘put on’ kindness along with the other qualities listed- to clothe ourselves in these most beautiful of garments. Why? Because they show the world, a world in which kindness can be sadly scarce, the heart of our wonderful, heavenly Father who is overwhelmingly gracious and infinitely kind.