Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." —Dalai Lama
I think of everything that’s readily available to us as human beings, kindness is the hands-down, nailed on superpower most of us don’t use anything like enough. Let’s be scrupulously honest for a minute shall we, this is a MWKD after all; it is not hard to offer a simple act of human kindness, not hard in the slightest.
“From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive. Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
You would be amazed by how much a kind word or gesture can have the power to totally change someone’s day, someone’s week, someone’s month, someone’s year or even someone’s life.
I’m not talking about complicated stuff here, either.
Something as basic as a smile. A genuine hello. Asking someone how their day is going, looking them in the eyes, meaning it, and actually listening to their answer. Telling someone you like their outfit, their shoes, their hat -- you get the point here.
Asking about someone’s hobbies or interests (even if you have zero interest.) Don’t underestimate how much people love to talk about things that make them happy – seriously. Sending an encouraging text for no special reason. Liking and commenting an emotional or meaningful social post. And I’m just about old enough to give an unexpected phone call. And sorry to the younger readers of this devotional, I get the horror of this last sentence is real. So just to redress the balance some scripture to illustrate the importance of being kind.
Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
And a verse in Micah illustrates the approach we should take toward kindness.
Micah 6:8 (ESV)
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
You “do” justice. You “walk” humbly but you “love” kindness. It’s a different, more emotional, less executional thought, reinforced in Colossians.
Colossians 3:12 (ESV)
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
I like to think I’m a kind person. I suppose we all do in some way. But can I truly say I love kindness? Deep down is kindness at my core? Or, is kindness something I turn on like a faucet when it’s convenient to me? Loving kindness is a worthy goal, though, isn’t it?
We see examples of genuine kindness throughout the Bible.
Pharoah’s daughter rescuing an infant Moses from a certain death in Exodus 2:5-10, going against her father’s explicit wishes. Joseph showing unflinching kindness to his brothers that sold him into slavery (Genesis 37:12-36) although he did employ a ruse as well here. Ruth’s kindness to Boaz in Ruth 3 and 4 is another example. Into the New Testament, the unnamed woman who washed Jesus’s feet with her hair is a wonderful illustration of kindness as of course is the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. But no-one demonstrated kindness quite like Jesus. Just look where he spent his time with the broken, the under-served, the crippled, the marginalized, folks on the fringes (and beyond) of society. And then of course he gave us the ultimate act of kindness on the cross. There’s a reason kindness is a fruit of the spirit.
Kindness also works both ways.
We need to be kind to ourselves as well. Be honest, how many of us are our own worst critics? I think you would be amazed for how many of us the most ferocious and bitter detractor is our lives is the face we see in the mirror every morning. We have a tendency as humans to give ourselves far less grace than we do our friends and families. Heck, in some cases even to people we actively know don’t like us. The late great Robin Williams was absolutely right when he noted: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
One thing to note about kindness is that it’s not always reciprocal.
Back in 2008 my grandfather (my Mom’s Dad) passed away. It wasn’t a surprise, he had been sick for a short period, but it was still a terribly sad milestone – the passing of my final grandparent. When the bad news arrived I was at work so I left the office for the day. As I was walking back to the subway along Park Avenue, I noticed a well-dressed older gentleman really struggling to exit a cab. Without thinking I headed over to offer my help and let’s just say I did not get the reaction I expected. The old man offered a repeated and vehement suggestion involving procreation and travel, so I took him up on his advice and carried on my journey to the subway. But as St Paul reminds us in Galatians:
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
So for your FWMKWD (For Wednesday, Midweek Devotional J ) make it your mission to be kinder this week. Yes, I get we’re all going through it still with this endless pandemic and life it tough but it doesn’t cost you anything to be kind. And you never know how impactful your kindness might actually be.