I sent a text to a friend this morning wishing her a new year that will be kind to her heart. It wasn’t my usual Happy New Year’s greeting filled with declarations that this year rang empty and insincere to my ears. Words are important to me and I choose them with care to truly express my thoughts and heart. And so, this morning as I stared at the screen on my phone, I found myself typing and deleting several words and phrases before finding the right one. Before deciding that what I really wanted for my friend this year was for her soul to experience kindness.
It’s what I want for me too. It’s what I want for you. For all of us. Good health is great. Blessings are wonderful. Love covers over a multitude of sins. But for a soul to be infused with kindness from others, from the world, from ourselves, from God. That is the warmth my heart desperately desires this year.
With honest introspection, I am guilty of not extending as much kindness to others as I should. For the most part, I am not a mean person. But my indifference and ready excuses and justifications to withhold kindness is perhaps a sad reflection of an unkind heart in need of repentance.
Being kind is a character trait. An inner attitude of generosity, consideration and concern for others. But extending kindness is a behaviour and action. Someone can generally be a kind person but not do kind things. The opposite is also true. It is possible to do acts of kindness, to do good things and deeds without having the corresponding heart attitude.
For example, this idea is supported by substituting kindness for faith in James 2:14-17 “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to be kind but has no deeds? … Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, kindness by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead.”
I think that is why kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22. Extending kindness does not come naturally to me. Merely thinking about it is essentially useless. I need assistance. God knows that. Thus, He has provided the Holy Spirit to help me grow in my desire and ability to do good to others without counting how much I might need to sacrifice in time, energy or money or without expectation of my own blessings and rewards.
When I spread kindness to others my soul feels encouraged and fulfilled by my actions. I grow. When I hear stories of acts of kindness that others have received or given it deeply touches my heart. I heal. When I am the recipient of kindness my life and value have been affirmed by someone. I matter.
How much more when I receive kindness from God. And I do. Oh, how I do. Yet, curiously, kindness seems to get lost in the shuffle when talking about God’s attributes and the wondrous offerings He has available for us. Goodness, grace, mercy, forgiveness, extravagant love. All of these things significant and immeasurable. But …. kindness. The tender, gentle, nurturing, genuine concern for my spirit.
There is a lyric in the song Reckless Love by Cory Asbury that caught my breath the first time I heard it:
“You have been so, so kind to me.”
The message in the lyrics throughout this worship song are beautiful in emphasizing how each individual person is precious to God. But this kindness is a confirmation that God not only loves me, but that He cares about me too. It is how He loves me. Pure, perfect love, God’s love, is difficult for my limited human mind to fully comprehend. My experiences with human love are flawed. But kindness. I know what that is. And just as God’s love, goodness and faithfulness are overwhelming, so is His kindness.
“Love is kind” 1 Corinthians 13:4
And gentle, thoughtful, selfless kindness is love in action.
Lord, when my heart is hurting, scared, lonely, depleted or feeling hopeless and defeated may it be filled with Your never-ending loving kindness. But most importantly, teach me and use me to be a vessel of Your abundant, extravagant loving kindness to those around me who so desperately need a glimpse of Your powerful yet tender Presence. Help me to be as kind to their hearts as You have been and continue to be to mine. Amen.