Several years ago, my son and daughter-in-law were pregnant with who was to be my first grandson. Both my wife and I were excited about taking on our new roles as ‘Nana’ and ‘Pop Pop’. As her condition became more obvious, I began noticing that young pregnant women seemed to be everywhere. I don’t believe I had ever really paid attention to this before.
When I purchased a certain pickup truck, I began to notice how many of these trucks were on the highway. They seemed to be around every curve and at every intersection. My thoughts and eyes had become sensitive to this just as they had to the pending arrival of my grandchild.
It’s funny, but as I began praying about how God would lead me to write about ‘kindness,’ I began noticing t-shirts being worn by people that said, “Just Be Kind.”
“Just Be Kind,” a wonderful sentiment. I suspect this slogan is a response to a world that is moving away from compassion and empathy at a break-neck speed. Perhaps in an effort to apply the brakes and slow down this global shift, someone has printed a t-shirt that encourages a positive behavior that appears to be losing its steam rapidly.
The message on the shirt caused me to question, instead of just putting on a t-shirt how could someone “put on kindness? How does pure kindness manifest itself in one’s life? Perhaps an even better question might be: Can a person just decide to be kind one day and this decision result in continual acts of kindness?
One of the most beautiful expressions of kindness is found in a familiar Psalm. The 23rd Psalm paints our God as a shepherd that lovingly provides for us, His sheep. In kindness our shepherd walks us to green pastures where the sustenance is sweet and filling. He takes us to the quiet waters that are safe and calming so that our thirst will be quenched. When we become weary and turn to Him, the Shepherd faithfully restores our soul.
Through tender benevolence towards His sheep, the Good Shepherd is showing kindness. God provides us for because He is kind. Ultimately, God’s kindness is revealed by the provision of our salvation through the loving gift of His Son and our Saviour, Christ Jesus.
If acts of kindness are to be gentle or tender, benevolent and useful to others, is that something that can just happen if we set our minds to behaving well? If being kind mandates that every action, every word uttered will be seasoned with grace can you and I, by the mere act of self-determination, bring about such a feat?
Perhaps that’s possible in the short-term. However, to be kind even with those we love, is extremely difficult. It usually results in many failures. Showing kindness to others that are actively attacking us or standing against us in some way is impossible in our own strength.
The ultimate expression of kindness is grace. Many years ago, I heard Adrian Rogers (then Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, TN) say of grace, it is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. I don’t know if this clever explanation of grace was original with Dr. Rogers, but it matters not. It’s true enough.
Through grace, God has revealed to us His compassion, His tenderness, and His benevolence. God’s perfect love is shown through this wonderful, even unexplainable act of kindness called grace.
Kindness, as it is used in the New Testament, means uprightness or benevolence and describes the ability to act for the welfare of others. Kindness by that definition can, at times, be quite unnatural.
Being kind can only come through humble submission to God. It is Godly love that makes a person kinder. It won’t come by a determined effort to act better. The t-shirt message finds its reality in the love of God alone.
Kindness is no small thing. It yields marvelous fruit both in our lives and the lives of those around us. “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor” (Proverbs 21:21)
Kindness belongs to God. It is a fruit of His indwelling Spirit in our lives. Our lives can yield the fruit of kindness toward others as we abandon ourselves fully to the agapé love of God.
The Apostle John wrote: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
Today, ask God to fill you with His perfect love. God is faithful to bring about His will to those who seek Him. He will lead you to a life that is kinder, more forgiving and gracious towards others. As kindness begins to take hold in your life, thank God for His grace and infinite love.
It’s true that kindness is love’s conduct.