Kindness is soft and strong. It is accepting of where people are and who they are. It does not judge, but instead respects thoughts and emotions. It acknowledges the good, the bad, the easy, the hard. When shown kindness, a person feels safe, is healed, is accepted. Kindness shows that one is listened to and heard. Kindness is generous. It can also be fierce! (‘Because I love you …’). Kindness sometimes means being vulnerable and risking the loss of things or people. A gift of kindness can mean loss while also delivering the most incredible peace.
Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit of God. It is an expression of grace and a means by which we can love one another and get along together giving us a real experience of dwelling with God and each other. Kindness feels warm, refreshing and sustaining. It often brings with it a strong sense of being valued and belonging.
Kindness looks like the Good Samaritan; the person who understands what it means to love God, love themselves and love others (their neighbours). When Christ’s listeners asked ‘Who is my neighbour?’ (i.e. Who should I be kind to?), Christ answered with the story of the Good Samaritan and a question, ‘Which person in the story do you think was a neighbour?’
Kindness is often recognized by actions and sometimes magnified by attending to the small intricate things in the life of another. Developing a kind thought-life and affirming others with kind words are also important expressions of love. Other virtues that accompany kindness include generosity, integrity, steadfastness and compassion. We should be able to receive kindness as well as give kindness and it should be a virtue devoid of superiority or inferiority. Self-righteousness, selfishness and judgementalism oppose and hinder kindness. Kindness can be used as an agent of change when we ask the question: ‘How can I bring kindness, love, grace into this awkward (or challenging, or volatile) situation?’
Why be kind? Because our God is kind.
The Hebrew sacred text says,
‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.’ (Jer 31:3)
The story of Ruth as told in the bible is full of kindness and in Colossians we are instructed to be kind:
‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’ (Col 3:12-14)
Shalom, and may we remember to consider the Lovingkindness of God often (Psalm 107:43) and not conceal it from others (Psalm 40:10).