In an often past-paced world where rude and thoughtless behavior toward others commonly prevails, the Christian is expected to be different! Generally speaking, the Christian must not be conformed to the image and ways of this world but must be transformed by the gospel to follow God’s holy ways (Romans 12:2)! The Christian, then, is expected to show kindness to others.
To be “kind” is to be thoughtful and to act in the best interests of others. Kindness wants to help others in times of need. Kindness wants to show courtesy toward others. Kindness acts with others in mind – generally looking for ways to help and encourage them. Kindness treats others with civility and is not focused on pursuing selfish interests and desires. Simply, kindness acts in ways that are good toward others.
Kindness Is A Characteristic Of God
The loving kindness of God is demonstrated throughout Scripture. Therefore, as you consider the need to develop the quality of kindness in your own life, it is important for you to learn from God’s kindness.
First, God is kind to others physically. Please notice that kindness is a characteristic of God – and is shown both to the evil and the good. Luke 6:35 says, “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” So, God’s kindness is not just shown toward those who act favorably toward Him, but to all mankind! In fact, God shows His kindness to others (particularly to the wicked) so that they will determine to live for Him. Romans 2:4 demonstrates that God’s goodness is designed to lead sinners to repentance. Certainly God does act in ways that are good and kind toward us physically – as every “good and every perfect gift” comes from above and “comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).
Second, God is kind to others spiritually. While we are all dependent upon the good God does for us physically, we are particularly dependent upon the loving kindness He has shown to us spiritually. This is in reference to the love and goodness God demonstrated in sending His only begotten Son to die on the cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins. Titus 3:4-7 demonstrates that God’s kindness and love appeared to mankind through this sacrifice, which gave us the opportunity to have eternal life in Heaven. Ephesians 2:7 says that God wants to show the “exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Though God is a severe God who will exercise His vengeance on those who reject Him, He has also shown His kindness and goodness toward us through Christ Jesus (Romans 11:22)!
God’s People Are Expected To Be Kind
As we have seen, kindness is a characteristic of God. It naturally follows, then, that God desires for His people to reflect His kindness as a characteristic in their own lives!
Kindness is part of the Christian’s transformed life. In Colossians 3, Paul identifies the old man of sin we must put to death – including specific sinful activity which must have no place in the Christian’s life. Then, Paul also depicts how the Christian should be living in a new and transformed way as a Christian. Specifically, Colossians 3:12 says that “as the elect of God” and as holy and dearly loved people of God, we must put on kindness!
Kindness is part of the Spirit-led life. Galatians 5:16-26 contrasts walking according to the ways of the flesh (following our own earthly desires) and walking according to the ways of God’s Spirit (following God’s instructions, as revealed by His Holy Spirit in the pages of the New Testament). If we follow the ways of the flesh, we will be engaging in the works of the flesh – and will miss out on Heaven (verses 19-21). However, if we follow the ways of God’s Spirit, our lives will be producing things that are pleasing to God (verses 22-23). Specifically, one of the fruits produced by following God’s Spirit is “kindness” (vs. 22).
Kindness is part of the life of love. God instructs His people to love. He wants us to love our spouses, our family members, our Christian brethren, our neighbors, and even our enemies. However, “love” is not defined by the way in which we desire to love others. Instead, God provides the great example of love in the sacrifice of His Son on the cross and expects His people to imitate this sacrificial love (see John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16-18). Then, God also gives us direct instructions concerning what it means to love in 1 Corinthians 13. Specifically, notice this passage teaches that love is “kind” (vs. 4).
Kindness is part of life in God’s family. While the Christian must demonstrate kindness toward all mankind, specifically notice the responsibility God gives for His people to show kindness to his/her Christian brothers and sisters. Ephesians 4:32 instructs, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” 2 Peter 1:7 indicates that Christians must be adding the quality of “brotherly kindness” to their lives.
Principles Involved In Showing Kindness
Since God is kind and God expects His people to be kind, we need to consider some of the principles that are involved in showing kindness. Consider a few with me.
#1: Remember the kindness of God. God’s people must never forget the loving kindness God shows to them – both physically and spiritually! Then, His people must not just remember this kindness intellectually; but, they must “be imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1) who desire to replicate their Heavenly Father’s holy character and be kind to all mankind!
#2: Kindness must not be conditional. Where would we be if God was only kind to those who were good to Him? Romans 3:9-18 demonstrates that there are none who are righteous, seeks after God, or does good! Yet, even when we were unrighteous, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-11). God’s people, then, must not only be kind to those who are kind to them in return (see Luke 6:34-36); but, must develop the character that seeks to be kind even when it is not reciprocated!
#3: Do unto others…. Jesus said, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). God’s people must be kind just because it is always the right thing to do! God’s people must treat others the way they would desire to be treated. Read about a couple examples of kindness from the Law of Moses in Leviticus 19:34 and Deuteronomy 22:1-4.
#4: Our kindness toward others is seen as our kindness toward Jesus. The Judgment Day scene in Matthew 25:31-46 is full of issues regarding kindness toward our fellow man while we have lived on the earth. We will be evaluated whether we have shown kindness toward the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned. Then, Jesus says that how we treat them is actually how we treat Him – and we will be judged accordingly!
Are you kind? Are you imitating the kindness of God toward your fellow man? God expects His people to have this characteristic in their lives. Challenge yourself to look for opportunities to be kind to others every day!