Try a Little KindnessJuly 13, 2020 Save Article
People all around us need someone to love them, someone to care. We need to show that fruit of the Spirit which reflects the love of Jesus—kindness. His was a life of kindness. None of us have what it takes to be kind like the Lord Jesus was kind. He is the only One who has ever lived to the fullest the Christian life. And if it's lived where you are, it will be Jesus Christ still living it in and through you.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Love is kind. (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
As the fruit of the Spirit becomes part of my way of life, others will see this fruit in my behavior, in my attitude, in how I treat people. But the manifestation of His Spirit in us isn’t something passive that just happens without any action on our part. The life of the Lord Jesus Christ in us is something we actively choose to put on. Colossians 3:12-13 tells us to put it on:
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another.
Kindness—and all other aspects of the fruit of the Spirit—is a choice we make, like choosing a shirt and putting it on. Each morning when we wake up, we can choose our attitude and choose to let the life of Jesus flow through us. We can put on kindness. Jesus Christ is here, living within you, to live His life through you. Be kind, for the fruit of the Spirit is kindness.
When George H. W. Bush was inaugurated President of the United States in 1989, everyone was waiting to hear what kind of a challenge he would give to us as a nation. Do you know what his challenge was? To be “a kinder, gentler nation.” I thought, “What a challenge, for the President of the United States to say to the greatest nation on earth, the need is more kindness, more gentleness.”
But that's not just the need of America. That's the need of your home and your life. In this study, we’ll break it down to look at the what, why, when, where, and way of kindness.
WHAT is kindness?
Kindness, also called gentleness, comes from a root word meaning “to be useful, good, helpful, or suitable.” All of us know what kindness is when we see it. First Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love is kind.” Kindness is love in shoe leather, love in practical and personal ways.
WHY we should be kind
Because God saved us through His kindness.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:4-5)
The coming of Jesus Christ into the world was “God's kindness toward us.” We’ve been saved by the kindness of God, so He has every reason to say to us, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Because we have received kindness, we must show kindness.
The world is not going to see the Lord Jesus Christ in us until they see our kindness. The world isn’t interested in your theology. They want to know, has it changed your life? Someone has well written, “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” You see, God is love, and love is kind. As the Lord Jesus Christ inhabits my humanity, He is going to display His deity to the degree that I am a kind and gentle person.
Because if we want kindness, we need to give it.
Whatever you want, learn to give, because the Bible says we're going to reap what we sow.
- Some of us are afraid if we're too kind, people will take advantage of us. Have you ever felt that way? When was it? Under what circumstances?
- What was the result?
- As a result, have you formed a shell, a little protective crust around you? Consider that. How does it measure up against the life of Jesus Christ?
Many of us are so cynical, we're afraid of having someone take advantage of us. It should not matter if someone takes advantage of us when we are following the Lord Jesus Christ’s example. People took advantage of Him. But He was and is kind. God keeps the score and He knows.
WHEN we should be kind
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)
Remember the Good Samaritan who saw a man who had been left bruised and bleeding by robbers? He was on his journey but stopped and helped the man right there. He didn't make excuses. He didn't say, “I'm too busy. I'm on a journey. It's too dangerous. It's none of my business.” But at that moment he stopped and did what he could do. There was a golden moment, and he took it.
Opportunities come to be kind, then somehow, we let them pass by. All around us people are bruised and bleeding, some bleeding financially, some emotionally, some spiritually. They need you to see the opportunity and take it right then.
If you don't remember anything else, remember this: the chief enemy of kindness is busyness. We're so busy—our priorities, our responsibilities, our jobs. But if we're too busy to be kind, we're too busy. This verse says, “As we have opportunity, let us do good.” The following was written by a French Quaker, and you’ve heard it before, but look once more: "I shall pass through this world but once. Any good I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now and not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again."
You can't do a kindness too soon, because you never know when it might be too late. Send that card or note or make that call now, if possible.
- Has the Holy Spirit impressed you to do an act of kindness to someone, but you delayed? Time passed, and you got too busy? Pause at this point and think of someone(s) who needs a word of encouragement, whatever form that may take. Write down 2 or 3 names in this space. There’s never a time in our lives when we don’t know someone who could use encouragement—a call, a card, a book, a little gift, or just do some small thing you know would bless them.
WHERE we should be kind
In situations of conflict, arguments, and quarrels
“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all….” (2 Timothy 2:24)
Are you a servant of God? Then you can't be quarrelsome. You must be kind in times of conflict, and we all have those. Be careful when you get into an argument with anyone, whether they’re lost or saved.
If they’re a Christian, they’re a part of your body. You are both members of the Body of Christ and Jesus is the head. If you harm a fellow believer, you harm yourself.
If they are unsaved and you’re unkind to them, you’re driving them further away from Jesus. How can you expect the unsaved to understand spiritual things? They should be the object of your pity, not your wrath.
Saved or lost, your object is not to drive them away, but to win your brother back, or win the lost person to the Lord Jesus.
Once when I had only been the pastor at a church for just a few months, I got a letter from one of the members. Frankly, it was quite a criticizing letter. He didn't like my mannerisms, the way I preached, the way I gave an invitation and told me so in no uncertain terms. I felt the letter was unfair. But I prayed, “Dear Lord, help me write back the kindest letter I can.” I wrote him back—not a pious letter but one of genuine kindness. He's in heaven today. But before he died, he came past the office and said to me, “You are the best friend I have.”
Kindness can do what perhaps nothing else can do. If he’s my brother, I need to treat him as Jesus would. If he's my enemy, I need to feel compassion. Whether he is a brother or an enemy I have to remember: when I'm being quarrelsome with anyone, there are unsaved people observing. They don't know who's who or what's what. But they know how they see us react. We need to be kind.
Your words can bless or burn, hurt or heal, and “a wholesome tongue is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4). Gentle words, kind words, can bring life and health. Everyone needs a little kindness. You can bring rest to someone just with a word of kindness.
Can you recall a time when a situation was getting overheated, and someone—perhaps it was you—was able to defuse what would have become a volatile situation by speaking a kind word? Maybe even inject a bit of humor. What were the circumstances? What defused the situation?
What would have happened to the relationship if it had escalated?
In situations where people are hurting
When people are hurting or grieving, you need to bring kindness and compassion. People are hurting all around us. Learn to be sensitive to others.
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
The key word here is look. Be sensitive. Open your eyes. Look around and you’ll see people who are hurting. In your neighborhood, there may be someone who's moving in and doesn't have any friends, or someone is moving out, leaving their friends. Among your acquaintances, there may be someone who's going through a divorce or has a broken home. Someone who is facing a business failure or financial loss. Someone who lost a friend or child by death. Someone who’s sick, someone who’s lonely. You won’t have to look far. But you will need to look.
Perhaps you’re not sure what to do. You say, “I'm not good at helping people when they're suffering. I just don't know what to say.” I understand that. But sometimes you don’t have to say anything. It can be not what you say but what you do—a small act of kindness that means so much.
Joyce and I have a little baby in heaven. His name is Philip. He died on Mother's Day, on a Sunday afternoon, one of those unexpected crib deaths. Members of our little church came to see us, to comfort us. One by one they would come in. So many of them fumbled. They didn't know what to say. They were so grieved. But I never will forget one man, Richard Hayes. He didn't know how to express himself very well. He was usually kind of gruff in the way he spoke. He was a deacon in our church. He loved me. I knew that. He didn't know what to say. But I never will forget when he laid his hand my shoulder and squeezed it and looked into my face. A tear fell from his eyes. He just looked at me and turned his face away and went out. That touch, that squeeze, that look meant more than a sermon. It was just a gentle touch, an act of kindness. Oh, how we need to learn to be kind. Opportunities are all around if we'll just look.
How are you coming with your list? Do you have some names to add as the Lord has been prompting you? Write the names down and what the Lord is prompting you to do.
In our own homes
Do you know the place where we need to be kind the most? At home. Why is it that we are the most unkind, speaking the most cutting remarks, in our homes, to those we love the most?
Friend, the religion that doesn't begin at home doesn't begin. And religion that is not kind is not the Christian kind of religion. Many marriages could be saved by a little kindness. Emerson said, “Courtesy is made up of little sacrifices.”
Men, God appointed you head of your home. Gentleness is a mark of leadership. Read this verse again: “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all” (2 Timothy 2:24). Do you want to be like Jesus? The Psalmist said to the Lord, “Your right hand has held me up. Your gentleness has made me great” (Psalm 18:35).
Do you want your children to be great? Be gentle with your children. Your words can so encourage them. Do you nag or do you brag? Do you encourage or do you belittle? Friend, to belittle is to be little. Your children need gentleness. They will grow and blossom with a father or mother who is gentle. The Bible says of a gracious woman, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26). Your children need this kindness perhaps more than anything else.
Men, what promise is there for you to claim in 2 Timothy 2:24?
Is there a command to obey in this passage?
How will you do this? (Relying on your own strength is not the answer).
Women, what command to obey is subtly stated in Proverbs 31:26: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness”?
What sin does this imply we should avoid?
What blessing will you enjoy by following Proverbs 31:26?
In our church
We need to be kind in our churches to our brothers and sisters in Christ. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Someone once wrote: “To dwell above with saints we love, Oh, that will be glory. But to dwell below with saints we know, Well, that's another story.”
There are people around us who need someone to love them, someone to care. We need to show kindness at home, kindness on the job, kindness in church.
Did someone come to your mind just now? Someone you hope you won’t see in the hallway at church? Someone who just annoys you?
Eventually, this will begin to dampen your freedom to worship God wholeheartedly. Write that person’s name down.
There’s a way to deal with this. Begin to pray for this person every day by name. Make it a daily spiritual discipline. And whenever the Lord brings them to mind, pray for them. Eventually, you’ll find it becomes harder to be annoyed by someone you are daily praying for.
The WAY we should be kind
Kindness is the life of Jesus. The Bible says of the Lord Jesus, “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). You see, none of us have what it takes to be kind—not the Bible kind of kindness. I don't have what it takes and neither do you. My dear friend, there's only one person who's ever lived the Christian life: Jesus. And if it's lived where you are, it will be Jesus Christ still living it in you and through you.
You don’t need to ask, “What would Jesus do if He were here?” Friend, Jesus is here. He lives in us. We are his body. We need to follow His leading. We must say, “Lord Jesus, you are here, and I abide in you just like a branch abides in a vine (John 15:5), and I draw from you, Lord Jesus, the kindness you want me to show—the same kindness You have shown me.”
May God help us as He inhabits. through His Holy Spirit, our humanity, and through which He will display His deity.
When we were saved, the Holy Spirit came to dwell within us. His indwelling is a promise of God. This would be a good time to review “The 5 P’s” and meditate on them as you review these passages:
“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all.” (2 Timothy 2:24)
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
The 5 P’s:
• Pray over it.
• Ponder it.
• Put it in writing.
• Practice it.
• Proclaim it.
Learn more about how to study the Bible with the LWF Bible Study Guide.
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