Kindness—such a privilege and a challenge. How easy it is to show kindness to a beloved friend in good times, to a well-behaved pet, to a co-worker who’s done something solid for you.
How difficult when a friend is trapped in a mess of their own making. When the cat tears the curtains. When a co-worker keeps missing deadlines.
Lately I’ve been learning that kindness should never depend on how I feel. It doesn’t matter if I feel like being kind to my cat; I’m still not going to kick her. Nor will I leap down my friend’s throat and utterly berate him for the mess he’s made. Nor will I go off on a tangent against my coworker and gossip about them behind their back.
When we make kindness our default approach, while it may not fix a bad situation, we are not in a position to make it worse. Kindness—whether gentle or firm—begets far more correction and change than a hot-tempered word. Whether we’re comforting a hurt heart, confronting a habitual bad practice, or eve meeting someone for the very first time, leading with kindness influences the situation and steers it toward the best possible outcome.
And honestly, we could all use a little more kindness both given and received, couldn’t we?
What is Kindness?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines kindness as “the quality or state of being kind; of a sympathetic or helpful nature; of a forbearing nature.”
Kindness is something everyone needs more of. It seems we can hardly turn left or right these days without encountering someone who’s suffered from unkindness, someone who’s being unkind, or else we’re facing the temptation to be unkind ourselves.
But one of the greatest qualities Jesus exuded—and I think one of the qualities that still draws people most strongly to him—was his kindness. He helped those the society of that day turned their backs on—lepers and cripples and tax collectors and sinners. He touched the untouchable, challenged Sabbath laws to heal the needy, and changed countless lives—actions that resonate to this day.
“Random acts of kindness” are considered one of the faith-restoring hallmarks of humanity; deep down, all of us are moved to varying levels when we see an act of pure kindness, done without deceit or self-aggrandization.
When people act out of kindness, it fills them with joy. When others witness kindness, it gives them hope. And when people receive kindness, it can change their whole world. It’s no wonder kindness is a fruit of the spirit that works in us—its benefits are so widespread, it’s one of the clearest ways we see God move in this day and age.
What Does the Bible Say About Kindness?
Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Romans 2:4 – Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
Micah 6:8 – And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
How Can I Become Kinder?
Like the other fruits of the spirit, kindness is an integral part of our “new man” nature. Thus, the more we build up our spiritual life and the more we walk according to God’s instructions and live by His precepts, the kinder we will naturally become. Because the nature of God is kindness, when we become nearer to Him, we will reflect kindness even more toward others.
We can also cultivate kindness in many ways, such as:
- Putting the needs of others before ourselves.
- Giving special thought to those less fortunate.
- Taking time to speak to others and listen empathically.
- Taking care of those in need.
- Confronting issues in a loving and godly manner.
- Reading the Gospels and studying the example of Christ.
- Praying frequently and fervently for others.
- Leading with love rather than hate.
- Seeking the person behind any problem rather than seeing them for their flaws.
There are just a few of the ways we can both show and grow our loving kindness!
Make an effort this week to look for someone who is especially in need of kindness; then do your best to meet that need.