Vulnerability paired with deep inner security produces practical kindness.
“Be kind!” “It costs nothing to be kind.” These are popular phrases we hear in today’s society. But how are we to be kind to others when we find it so hard to be kind to ourselves? From where does kindness ultimately come & why is it so difficult to practice on a daily basis?
To start things off, Titus 3:4-7 paints a beautiful description of how we are freely gifted kindness.
"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."
This verse sums up hope for this lifetime perfectly! The first thing that appeared was the kindness of God. It was through his kindness and love -nothing more, nothing less- that he saved us. So awe-inspiring.
I also love Webster’s 1828 dictionary definition of kindness.
It says: "That temper or disposition which delights in contributing to the happiness of others, which is exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants or alleviating their distresses; benignity of nature. Kindness ever accompanies love."
That last part! Kindness ever accompanies love. This matches up exactly with the last scripture reference pointing to God’s love & kindness. I love how the two are always together. We can’t have one without the other.
Kindness is an outpouring of love. To me, it differs from gentleness in that first we must be kind in order to be gentle. We must have a forgiving heart, leading to kindness and a spirit of gentleness.
So what are some things we know about kindness?
Well, first off, kindness takes humility. How many times in a day do we have a “better than you” or “holier than thou” mentality?
Kindness requires us to serve. In our actions and our words. It comes from a place that is free of criticism. Having a servant’s heart is the goal. This is obviously not second nature to us as we usually have a selfish bent. Humility takes practice!
Secondly, kindness can lead to reconciliation. Within our own hearts towards God or in conflict resolution with each other. A kind word or deed can dissolve a previous conflict. When we show someone the grace of God, it melts away tension and creates space for joy and abundance.
Kindness is life-giving.
Thirdly, kindness is preceded by forgiveness. Forgiveness and releasing our offense towards people is one of the hardest things we can do. Sometimes we love hanging on to that resentment. It’s helpful to identify what the root cause is that is triggering us to covet that feeling of anger towards someone. It keeps us prisoner and bound to a spirit of anger, allowing no growth in anyway.
Showing kindness is like showing the face of Christ. It is powerful & contagious. It changes us. But if we are offended by others on a regular basis, we will have pushed out all semblance of kindness from our heart.
Sometimes people do act in a harsh or unfeeling matter, often times without even knowing it, so it is our own personal job not to let offense take root. Constantly forgive & release. This cycle then circles us back to joy.
Forgiveness leads to release -> gratitude -> kindness -> joy.
We know how important it is to forgive others, but how important is it to forgive ourselves?
I came across a great article on this topic.
An excerpt from it says this,
“Think about it for a moment. Paul tells us plainly that there is ‘now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1). He also says that ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new’ (II Corinthians 5:17). If you continue to condemn yourself after receiving the grace and forgiveness of Christ, isn't there a sense in which you are denying the faith and crucifying the Son of God afresh (Hebrews 6:6)?”
I love that for however much we are reminded of the importance of forgiving others, it is also important that we release and forgive ourselves when we know that we have been made new.
In the same way we need to show kindness to others, kindness to ourselves helps to remind us of God’s love for us, our destiny, and our worth.
What is your definition of kindness & how does it differ from something like gentleness?
Choose a random act of kindness this week that you will carry out in order to bless someone else- without expecting anything in return. If you can, pick one for every day of the week!
As you go about your day, look for ways where you can actively forgive others and release even the smallest amount of offense towards them. First, stop & observe your thoughts & your feelings.
What exactly are you feeling? Who are you blaming?
Is it really their fault or is it a lack of emotional maturity or dealing with some sort of trauma that was triggered? Also, look for a few areas where you know you need to begin forgiving yourself.
So while kindness can really cause us to dig deep within to release and forgive, it has immeasurable results when we choose to demonstrate it. To humble ourselves to a place where we value others’ feelings and well-being is to possess a servant’s heart.
This is made possible by immersing ourselves in the truth that our Creator’s first thought of us was to show us kindness and eternal life. If we can truly absorb the knowledge that He shows us nothing but true love and kindness, our hearts will be transformed.