My recent experiences have suggested to me that we need more kindness in our world. The opposite of kindness is evident: being rude, insensitive, derogatory in language, and self-centered. The absence of kindness can make work, school, and home life burdensome.
So what is kindness? This is where dictionaries can disappoint. Kindness is often defined by a long list of qualities. But I think we can focus this broad beam of light to some basics. Kindness is sympathetic of other people’s plight. It is helpful to other people’s needs. It is forbearing and gentle in dealing with people. It involves a warm heart towards others rather than a cold and indifferent one.
Kindness is a Christian virtue. It is component of the fruit of the Spirit. As Christians we shouldn’t ignore developing it in our lives. Reflection on Christian teaching aids us in understanding the virtue and hopefully making it real in our lives. Why are we called to kind?
All human beings are created in the image of God and are to be treated with dignity. They are also people for whom Christ died. We are not to treat people as things but as persons. Yes, we will face difficult people maybe even enemies. Evil is not overcome by evil returned but by good.
Paul teaches us that love fulfills the law (Romans 13:8-10). All the various commandments can be summed up in love your neighbor. Love will not harm others. But the ethic of love will go beyond: do no harm. The Golden Rule extends this: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12, ESV). Love will do positive good for others. Christians are to live this ethic of love.
We are the recipients of kindness from God. God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4). God’s kindness toward us in Christ is seen in the immeasurable riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:7). Just as we love because God first loved us, we are called to kindness because of the great kindness God has shown us.
Kindness is free in the sense that I can freely bestow it on all I meet. Certainly, kindness may cost me something as a I do a good deed, but most of the time it is a matter of how I treat people. I want to see a lot of free kindness in my world because kindness is transformative. The walk with the Spirit must include kindness. This is something to which we’re called.
— Russ Holden