Seeing this theme for 2022, I must admit I was a bit startled. It seemed to me to suggest an “out”. When is it not possible to be kind?
Kindness. We are tempted to wonder where this simple, basic trait has gone.
Watching the news, we seldom see simple kindness exhibited unless we are looking for it. Whether in scenes of war and murder or just plain rudeness and the refusal to listen to a different point of view in the opinion pieces, (is there any news that is not mostly opinion anymore?), the world appears a rather cold and unyielding place.
There seems to be fewer individuals who truly seem to possess dignity, integrity or even kindness. Or is the harshness of the world so loud we choose to apply a deaf ear not only to cruelty, but to muffle out the good as well?
Do we take time to seek out kindness? Are we capable of shutting out so much we miss the opportunity of opening a door for another or surrendering our seat on the bus to the elderly? Big events, or those made to seem bigger than life, screech at us from all forms of media. From our TVs, radios, computer screens and phones, they demand attention. The pushy and relentless “what about me” intrudes on our daily lives from honking cars, those insisting their own view is so much more relative than our own, and those who sound more like petulant teenagers and crying children, taking attention away from those who actually deserve our consideration.
All these things combine to make it, at times, difficult to be kind ourselves; like when our spouse requires an answer to much put-off question, or the teenage son or daughter want us to listen to an elaborate reason as to why they need the car—NOW, or when the broken-hearted child, who’s shunned by a playmate, longs to know they are the center of our entire world.
Weary of the world, we turn to scripture. What does kindness truly require of us? Setting aside our own emotions can really seem cruel too. “Why me,” we pout, “why is it up to me?”
If we still ourselves, we hear a small voice whisper, “If not you…who?”
Anyone who has attended a wedding has likely heard 1 Corinthians 13:4.
“Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gently and consistently kind to all…” (TPT)
So, patience coupled with kindness. Does being kind require patience? Of course it does. Whether it is in a heated argument or with a crying child, we cannot be kind until we, the giver, calm down within the storm. The slowing down allows us patience for the other and ourselves. If we cannot find understanding for ourselves, we will never identify with the pain of another. We will only find guilt.
Once we find Patience, we can move on to Ephesians 4:32.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (NIV)
Ouch! Here kindness is coupled not only with compassion, but God wants us to forgive one another as well!
But…then comes Matthew 18:21-22.
“Later Peter approached Jesus and said, “How many times do I have to forgive my fellow believer who keeps offending me? Seven times?”
Jesus answered, “Not seven times Peter, but seventy times seven.” (TPT)
Seventy-seven times? And you just know that Jesus in all probability hopes we will have stopped counting by then. And further, who isn’t pretty sure that he does not limit it to fellow believers but certainly those who may not know him at all. We recognize that forgiveness is not optional if we wish to be kind in all areas of our lives.
God knows it is actually easier on us to be patient, forgiving, and kind if we practice these constantly in our lives rather than trying to pick and choose when we will bless others. Kindness needs to be developed as a way of life, as the go-to response to all of life’s situations.
On Kindness Day we can choose. And it is a choice to be kind. To be kind to all on purpose: the cashier at the grocery store, the person on the phone who bumps into us on the street, the co-workers questioning our decisions, the newspaper boy who consistently hits the bushes and our families who need it the most after a long day in their world.
When is it “not possible” to be kind? Never.