Posted on 09-Dec-2014
October 25th, 2014
How important is kindness? In a 2003 study of 37 cultures around the world, 16,000 subjects were asked about their most desired traits in a mate. For both genders, the first preference was kindness! People want to be treated kindly but have a harder time being kind themselves. A large-scale study of school bullies was recently conducted to learn why they bully other kids. The conclusion? Most do it because they enjoy doing it. This illustrates how cruel, mean and sadistic raw human nature is. Kindness must be learned, and many children are not being taught it. In fact, much of the media they're exposed to teaches the opposite. Violence and other terrible influences in media entertainment cause people to become desensitised and calloused toward the needs and feelings of others. So in general, what is kindness?
Kindness starts with caring - being tenderhearted and compassionate toward others. If God wants us to be kind to animals, how much more to people!
The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked is cruel. (Proverbs 12:10, New International Version)
Next, we must make it our goal and habit to be actively looking for opportunities to show kindness. When we see one, we need to act quickly before the opportunity is gone. Action includes some kind of self-sacrifice and therefore generosity on our part, especially of our time. Of course, the emphasis on deeds over mere words does not mean words are unnecessary. Action includes words. Encouraging words of comfort, courtesy, compliments and even correction can be heartwarming acts of kindness. Several biblical proverbs attest to this. What to say and not to say should be guided by awareness of the sensitivities of others. We must help people heal from their emotional wounds rather than rubbing salt in those wounds. Sadly, when people know what "buttons to push," they often use that insight to further hurt each other.
Doing someone a favour to get a favour in return is not wrong unless it's illegal or unethical (like bribery). But a favour done to get some benefit is not true kindness. Genuine kindness is lending a helping hand when you expect nothing in return. Kindness should begin with our kin. Ironically and tragically, many people display their most unkind behaviour with the ones they should love the most. God is not unaware of this hypocrisy. And Jesus Christ emphasised that we must be kind to everyone, not just our family and friends (Luke 6:31-34). If you do this, "your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to [even] the unthankful and evil" (verse 35).
If you and I are kind to hundreds of nice people, doesn't that prove we are kind people? Perhaps yes, according to normal standards. But God's standard requires being kind to all—even "evil" people. Now if we do a good deed for someone and there is no "thank you," don't we feel we should "give him what he deserves" and wash our hands of him?Of course. But our reacting in this "natural" way is not sufficient if we want to be "sons of the Most High."
We must ask, "What would Jesus do?" and then do likewise. A huge factor in the world today is that many people are psychologically confused, wounded and scarred by being neglected, rejected or abused, especially during the vulnerable time of childhood. They can be full of depression, fears, anger and suspicion. Likewise, many people are suspicious of any favours. They assume everyone has a selfish ulterior motive and is out to manipulate them or hurt them. They often "bite the hand that feeds them." But these people need kindness more than anyone! Persistent efforts to be kind to them can gradually convince them that you are a true friend.
Furthermore, your kindness can bring about progressive healing for their wounded hearts. How to generate kindness you may ask, well we have an answer. It takes genuine effort to be truly kind. In Galatians 5:19-21, the apostle Paul refers to human nature as "the flesh" and our natural tendencies as the "works of the flesh." These include hatred, jealousies, selfish, ambitions and envy. All these traits are selfish and self-centered. Kindness requires the opposite - caring concern for others. "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteemothers better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others" (Philippians 2:3-4).
So with each of us, may the fruit of kindness bears in every single one of us. Above all, we should strive to follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ. As He had portrayed the greatest example of loving-kindness.