So much in me would love to write the negative version of this article. But that would defeat my purpose. I recently came across some well-meaning people who were incredibly loving, insightful to a degree and completely un-kind. Kindness, which the bible identifies as a fruit of the Spirit of God, has been relegated to the tame fringes of the modern godly ‘character profile’. But it is essentially something that cannot simply be added onto the end of a conversation. It is not simple the sheen of your intention – kindness is the key ingredient to how those around you grow.
Notice, I did not say ‘how those around you feel’. Kindness is more of a growth agent than a pacifier. It is not a sweet smile of a hospital visitor or the tip you leave after your meal. Kindness speaks of a commitment way greater than that.
Honesty is kind
One of the most unselfish things you can do for those around you is to be completely honest. In many ways, deception or delusion is for your own benefit – so you can feel better about yourself. But in a world of surface-level niceties, an honest confession can be the springboard from which people around you can launch themselves. There is no place for flippant rhetoric when you’re honest. No “everything will turn out fine” or “you’re awesome” belongs in an honest conversation. Nothing is more kind than letting people know where they stand with you as a person in their lives. Phrases like “I have no idea”, “I honestly don’t like … about you” or “I think it’s time to move on” may seem a little harder to say, but will mean the world to those who know you.
Sharing is kind
I’m not talking about the sepia photo where the children share the umbrella. However, I am speaking about the gentleman who runs across the road to help an old woman across the road. Jesus epitomized this to a much better degree when he came as a baby to earth. He chose to be in it – dealing with all of life. He chose to crawl, then stand, then walk. He chose to learn how to read. He chose to be in a family. He chose to learn a trade. So that when he said he came to take on our burden – to share the load – we knew that he had full knowledge of our circumstance. Kindness is found in sharing the good and the bad. Not just giving the good, but stepping into the bad. Sometimes kindness is the silent support when things have gone wrong. Kindness is not generosity – it is partaking. There is nothing more kind than someone who commits to be a partner through hard times.
The right direction is kind
I have found myself searching for kindness in some of the harder seasons of my life. I have also seen others in deep need of kindness as they have endured their own struggles and have to confess, I have done terribly at showing kindness – only getting it right on rare occasions. When people are facing their worst, the greatest thing you can do is point them to God. But the temptation is always to draw attention to yourself. Many would rather share their own story that is similar and come up with some solutions based on that. Don’t get me wrong, solicited advice is a huge help, but unsolicited storytelling in a one-on-one context can drive people away. When someone comes to you in desperation, there is always a genuine desire to help. But as in most cases I have been in, trying to search for answers on the spot only damages the situation. Kindness is knowing when to listen. To admit when you don’t understand, but commit to helping them find Jesus in the midst of their struggle.
God is kind
One of my favorite scripture is Romans 2:4 – God’s kindness leads us to turn from our sin. I have seen many try righteousness as a means to make people repent. On occasions I have seen the question of hell used to coerce people into belief. I have seen goodness being used to promise away the hard realities of life in an attempt to coax people into knowing God. But it is kindness – the powerful kindness of Jesus Christ – who chose to be honest about the state of our souls, chose to share in our struggle and chose to give us access to his Father that calls us to change how we live. If you want to know this kindness, as I hope to do for the rest of my life, click on the link below to find out more.