The world can sometimes seem toxic, combative, and even unkind. The question as followers of Christ we have to ask is, “What is our contribution to that cultural conversation?” As apprentices of Jesus, we are called to be people marked by compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. When we are kind, we show people God’s kindness. When we are compassionate, we show people God’s compassion. When we are forgiving, we are showing people God’s forgiveness. Kindness is more than random acts; it's the way of Christ.
The Golden Exception
If you’re old enough, you might remember the phrase, “be kind, rewind.” That motto encouraged people to reset their VHS tapes so that the next person to borrow the tape would be able to start watching right away. It’s sort of like replacing the toilet paper when it runs out, so that the next person doesn’t have to worry about it.
These are both pretty easy things to do, and they’re small ways to show other people that you acknowledge them. They’re a couple of the easiest ways to apply the so-called Golden Rule: treat others how you want to be treated.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31
The importance of being kind is drilled into our heads at a very young age. It’s a frequent discussion between parents and their children, and a frequent lesson in the classroom. So, what more do we have to say about being kind? Now that we’re mature adults, we should all have mastered the virtue by now, right?
Well, if you look around the world today, you’ll probably find that the Golden Rule seems more like the exception than the rule. Maybe somewhere along the way, we began to take to heart a different worldview, like “nice guys finish last.” Maybe we’ve been wronged so much that bitterness feels like our only valid response. Maybe we’ve seen how kindness can leave us vulnerable to being taken advantage of, and decided that the last thing we want is to sacrifice something for someone any less kind than ourselves.
It might seem more fair that we do to others what they’ve done to us. No more, no less. Thankfully, God doesn’t choose to operate that way! And because of Jesus, we can be freed from these mindsets.
Our Kindness Reveals Jesus’ Kindness
Here’s another common saying: “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” This isn’t bad advice, but we like this advice better: “if you don’t have anything nice to say, you should probably figure out why!”
If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, you should always have something nice to say. While you were doomed by your sins Jesus died for you so you could be forgiven. You know the truth — that we live in a world formed by our Creator, who loves us, wants to be with us, and will come down from His throne to die for us. By God’s grace you are saved from hell and await an eternity in heaven.
That’s pretty awesome, right? So if someone’s testing your patience, try to cut them some slack. However inconvenient the twists and turns of your day might be, it’s still bound to be way easier than Jesus’ Good Friday. In the grand scheme of eternity, we can call most things “water under the bridge.”
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Because we have Jesus as an example, and because He loved us first, we can show kindness to people who don’t “deserve” it. This is our responsibility as those walking in Christ Jesus. We are God’s representation, not of how good we are, but how good He is. When we practice kindness, we are teaching theology.
A lot of people tune out the Gospel and turn away from Jesus because they’ve encountered unkind Christians. Kindness (or a lack of kindness) from Christians is how the world will see Jesus. Church hurt is real. It’s a part of many of our stories, and God can chase people down even through the pain. But let us not be the reason that someone living outside of God’s love turns further from it.
We have the potential to live a life of such radiant kindness that those with hearts hardened to the Gospel will be drawn to Him!
A good way to grow in kindness is to practice kindness. So let’s put it into action, above and beyond our usual way. You may have heard of “random acts of kindness,” but with the Holy Spirit, we can do intentional acts of kindness. As we go about our days, we can listen for the promptings of the Holy Spirit to commit our time and energy wherever God directs us.
Try to practice kindness this week, keeping an eye out for others and a heart open to the direction of the Spirit. Pursue a week marked by kindness in your home, among your neighbors, and throughout your larger community. No act of kindness is too small when done in the name of the Lord. He can multiply our efforts beyond our wildest dreams.