When I first sat down to write this blog post, I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to write about kindness. Isn't kindness similar to being polite? Who doesn't know how to be polite? But after some introspection, I began to think about times when others had been kind to me and what made those moments so memorable. Whereas today's definition of kindness has become “being polite and civil with each other,” God's kindness to us and the kindness we're called to bestow on others is so much bigger than that.
1) God is our definition of kindness.
We serve a God who is all-loving and all powerful. Just look at any Psalm, ever.
Psalm 23:2-3 tells us that "He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength."
Psalm 25:10 tells us that "the Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness."
The list goes on and on.
I tend to repeat this over and over again, but our fundamental responsibility as Christians is to be "the salt of the earth" and "live as people of the light." (Matthew 5:13-16; Ephesians 5:8). As weird as it may sound, we are God's representatives on Earth and we are called to set an example for others. I don't mean to say that if you say something mean to someone, you aren't a Christian. I say plenty of mean things to plenty of people, just ask my friends HAHA but lovingly of course… Jokes aside, kindness doesn't come from our own nature because we are all sinful at heart. But when we walk with God and let Him take priority in our lives, He begins to replace those negative emotions and let His kindness grow in our relationships with others.
2) Kindness means putting others above ourselves.
Kindness doesn't simply mean being polite or courteous to others so we can stay comfortable in our relationships. In Philippians 2:3-4, we are told to "[not] be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too." God's kindness is more than actions, and they encompass one’s character. We no longer worry about doing the right thing to look good or to make other people like us, but rather we do them because that is who we are. One of the most famous stories in the Bible, The Good Samaritan, is a perfect example of true, genuine kindness. If you haven't heard the story before, The Good Samaritan comes from a parable told by Jesus in Luke 10. In the story, a Jewish traveler is beaten and left along the side of the road. A priest and a temple assistant both pass by the man and do nothing to help him. A Samaritan man (Samaritan and Jews hated each other at this time) comes by later, bandages the man's wounds, and takes him to an inn. This would come as a shock to Jesus's audience because a Samaritan helping a Jew was practically unheard of. However the Samaritan, rather than thinking of his own status or perception in others' eyes, took care of the man anyway.
This genuine, authentic kindness is what we should all have toward others: a type of kindness that does not repay hate for more hate. It is also the kindness that Christ has toward us. Even though we disobey and run away from God, He remains merciful and kind to us. According to Ephesians 4:32, we should be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to one another, just as God, through Christ, constantly forgives us.
3) Kindness also includes being kind to yourself.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” ( 1 Corinthians 13:4).
This part of kindness is something I think we all forget about. Something I've learned recently is that in order for me to be a good friend to others, I have to be a good friend to myself. When I constantly beat myself up and tell myself I'm not good enough, that negativity can't help but overflow into my other relationships. But luckily, God's compassion for us has the ability to overflow into our own perceptions of ourselves.
"What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7).
When we view ourselves critically, we begin to think of ourselves as machines rather than people. But when we view ourselves through God's kindness and as His children, we start to believe that we are worthy of compassion like He believes we are.
While kindness may seem like a super natural thing that we should all be able to have, being kind means more than just saying hi in passing or holding the door open for someone. Showing someone kindness means being genuinely concerned for them and being invested in helping them. When we are kind to people, we are able to show them just a little snippet of God's relentless love for them as well. God bless and sleep easy, fam.
SUMMING IT ALL UP:
- God is our definition of kindness.
- Kindness means putting others above ourselves.
- Kindness also includes being kind to yourself.