“Just kill them with kindness!” My mother used those words as an encouragement whenever I faced bullies at school. My guess is the notion of murder by nice deeds is an odd reference back to Proverbs 25:21-22. “If your enemy if hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you.” I get the verse. I hope that’s what my mom meant.
As work through the fruit of the spirit, it has taken a bit of time to both research and gather my thoughts on ‘kindness’ and ‘goodness’; two words that mean much the same in English and even are quite similar in definition in Greek. I did find interesting differences and, as usual, more than enough opinion to share. (Read about ‘goodness’ tomorrow morning’s blog “For Goodness Sake!”)
Many verses in scripture using the word “kindness” are in reference to God’s treatment of us especially as it pertains to how we don’t deserve His kindness. Kindness relates to mercy. Kindness is the outward visual representation of God’s goodness. Kindness is demonstrated with deeds. One cannot be considered kind unless they have the actions to prove it. Kindness is how love behaves.
God demonstrated kindness toward Israel when they did not deserve it. God demonstrates kindness toward us daily though we are undeserving. We should demonstrate kindness to the people around us who we deem undeserving. Here’s some examples of where kindness could be demonstrated in our lives:
Are you kind to the pierced and tattooed teenager who messes up your order at Taco Bell?
Are you kind to the coffee barista that moves too slowly at the drive through?
Are you kind to your kids’ teachers and coaches (and <cough, cough> their youth ministers/pastors)?
Are you kind to your democrat neighbor,
to the lady in the Trump t-shirt,
to your homosexual neighbor,
to the illegal immigrants down the street,
to the transgender woman walking in the mall,
what about the Muslim man and his burqa clad wife you see at the grocery store?
You are a conduit of God’s love, and you demonstrate this by treating everyone around you with kindness. Everyone. Even if you don’t believe they are worthy or deserving. And please know, not one of us deserve God’s kindness. It’s best not to forget that.
I consistently remind my children that they represent the whole of our family when they are out and about. They also represent Christ and Christianity in their actions. No, they won’t ever be perfect, but they do represent the church, and we all should remember that in our decision-making. The way you treat a non-believer will be burned in their mind. Do you want them to remember hateful judgments or kindness? Much is missed in America’s lust for independence and self-actualization. We often forget that our behaviors effect the whole.
Perhaps you have the kindness down, but it’s the integrity that’s tough. Maybe you can be nice in the moment, but the second you walk away you slander your neighbor. Friend, if this is you, you might as well have punched your neighbor in the face- at least then you’d be honest. Let your kindness be genuine and consistent.
Some of the saddest words I’ve heard from a student in my husband’s student ministry are “my mom is nice to everyone at church, but it embarrasses me how she treats people at the restaurant we go to.” Parents, your kids witness your inconsistency in how you treat others. If you are different person in the church lobby than you are in your local Olive Garden, your kids notice and they probably tell the youth staff at your church. (Words of warning) Oh, And God and the community notices too.
Finally, I am guilty of digital rage. Are you? If Facebook or Twitter tempts you to use unkind words to people who you may or may not know, pluck it out of your life. Remove the temptation. If you must respond to a post, stop. Stop. Pray. Think. Scroll down. Then stop again and pray. THEN, and only then, write. I’ve read these horrific word battles during election seasons between “Christians”. The worst, is when that one friend you have who is not a Christian simply leaves a “wow” comment under the thread. We are representing Christ even in the digital world. Represent well. Be kind.
Sip your coffee…
1.Are you superficially kind and then slanderous later? What are some steps you can take to be authentic in your kindness?
Read Romans 12:9. Write this down:
Let my love be real.
2. Is it difficult for you to be kind to those whom you may disagree? Why? Does considering that you represent Christ and His church motivate you toward kindness? Why or why not?
“The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” -2 Timothy 2:24
Friends, when you speak, let truth be your motive, but let love be your weapon. Always show kindness to the people around you. Grant them the same gift God gives you.