On my desk I have a poster that sends me a daily reminder to think of others. It reads:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
In the busyness of our daily lives we tend to focus so much on our immense workload, long list of priorities, personal stresses and general battles that we can easily forget that our neighbours are in the same boat as we are. For this very reason, I believe our world could do with a lot more kindness.
Kindness is not one of the personality traits that will make anyone famous, yet it goes a long way in changing the circumstances of ordinary people. Very seldom will the media pick up on stories of kindness, unless they are wanting to fulfill their own agenda. Politicians, musicians, actresses and authors are rarely congratulated for their spontaneous acts of kindness–perhaps because these stories don’t always sell tabloids. However, there are some incredible stories of kindness that should be told, and we don’t need to search far in order to find them.
If you paused for a moment I am certain you would be able to think of a friend or colleague who is exceptionally kind. Their lives are unselfish and always centered on the other people around them. There is simply no better way to describe them other than kind. These are the real people in our communities and we should celebrate their gifts, because kindness can be life-changing.
I came across this lovely quote by Alexander Maclaren that speaks about kindness: “Kindness makes a person attractive. If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it.”
Some people believe that changing the world by force is the only way to succeed, but surely we can bring about meaningful change in our broken world by having a truly kind heart? Kindness melts the crusted exterior that gathers on the hearts of the troubled, rejected and exhausted members of our community.
From a Christian perspective, I am convinced that when we live out of a heart of kindness we show ourselves to be disciples of Jesus. The Apostle Paul alluded to this when he wrote: “By our purity, knowledge, patience, and kindness we have shown ourselves to be God’s servants—by the Holy Spirit, by our true love…” (2 Corinthians 6:6)
Paul spoke about the centricity of kindness in our Christian gatherings. In his famous 1 Corinthians 13 passage, Paul writes: “Love is Patient, Love is Kind.” It is the second character trait in a long list of qualities that should mark the life of a Christian. If we have love that reaches out to the ‘other’, then we can certainly reveal this through acts of kindness. Simply put – kindness is the fruit of God’s Spirit working in our lives (Galatians 5).
I sincerely believe that our kindness should always be an overflow from the abundant love that God has for us. The image of God being kind and gracious is littered over the pages of the scriptures. For example, David reflected on God’s mercy and kindness when he penned these words: “But you, O Lord, are a merciful and loving God, always patient, always kind and faithful” (Psalm 86:15).
Isaiah added further comment on this when he prayed: “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses” (Isaiah 63:7).
It is evident that kindness is something we should all be seeking to practice in our lives and we would all be the better for it. In all my years of ministry I am yet to hear anyone complain about another person who has been too kind! We could all do with a little more kindness in our lives!
The remarkable thing about kindness is in its simplicity. Any person can be kind. We don’t have to be qualified in order to be kind.
We don’t need any formal education or a theology degree in order to be kind.
We don’t need to be a certain age, gender, or race to show kindness to others.
We don’t even need to speak any particular language, or have thousands of Instagram followers – we can simply be kind wherever we find ourselves.
And so, as we take our place in the world today, I encourage us all to look out for opportunities to be kind. Don’t over-analyse anything, just simply be kind and see what difference it can make!
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.” – Lucius Seneca
photo by Adam Nemeroff on Unsplash
Perhaps more now than ever, Awe and Wonder are important practices for a thriving life. Follow along with Christine in her latest book as she explores what childlike characteristics shape us into the people God intends us to be. Be encouraged to develop fresh spiritual practices that engage all our senses and help us to live a new kind of spiritual life that embraces the wonder and joy that God intends for us.
“Can you imagine a God who dances with shouts of joy, laughs when you laugh, loves to play, enjoys life, and invites us to join the fun?”