I heard a famous psychologist say, “It costs nothing to be kind.” While I understand the statement, I completely disagree. Kindness seems like such a simple thing to do in comparison to some huge tasks, don’t be fooled, kindness costs!
A word search of the bible indicates that the word “kindness” is used some 48 times in 42 verses. Recently, in my devotions I ran across Ephesians 4:32 which says:
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
This word for “kindness” carries with it the idea of being easy and not burdensome, kind, and benevolent. It’s the same word that Jesus uses about himself in Matthew 11:28-30, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Remember Romans 2:4,” Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” God’s kindness is unmistakable! And who could forget Ps 86:5 which says, “For you, O Lord, are good and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon you.” Kindness is not being a pushover or ignorant of the circumstances involved, but making a focused determination to give a biblical response.
But kindness, as far as we’re concerned, isn’t always our go to move. Kindness in the face of mistreatment by others and in difficult situations and circumstances isn’t always our first instinct or our first response. Our reaction may be to strike back, lash out, go on the offensive or even to make a person pay (Prov. 25:28). And sometimes our reaction in the face of mistreatment is to retreat, clam up and let the sinful slow burn and smoldering wick of bitterness keep slowly burning over and over in our mind. Both responses are sinfully wrong and miss the biblical mark of what God expects. Both reactions violate God’s clear commands to keep current and they rob us the wonderful benefits of practicing what God wants us to practice with each other. We easily become provoked, we easily retreat, and we are prone to reacting out of our pride and self-protection and sometimes with vengeful thoughts (Rom. 12:19-21). Proverbs 17:27-28 says, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; he closes his lips; he is deemed intelligent.” There is incredible value to being careful with how we respond. We are not called to repeatedly review the wrongs that people do to us or what they have perpetrated against us. We are to be much more solution oriented than that! No doubt, we are to be discerning about what we say. But prideful angry silence while continually ruminating (chewing over and over and over) how we have been wronged is not only unhelpful, but it is sinful and wrong.
“We need to develop a kind disposition, to be sensitive to others and truly desire their happiness. But sensitivity alone is not enough: the grace of goodness compels us to take action to meet those needs.” Jerry Bridges
Believer, we are called to be kind. We are to work disagreements out with people quickly and honestly. To attack problems not each other and to have problem solving conversations that are saturated with truth and the love of Christ, honoring to Him in having them (Eph. 4:25-26; Heb 3:13; Rom 12:18). We are called to exhibit kindness. And we should remind ourselves that the exhortation to “be kind” isn’t optional, even though we sometimes we act as though it is. Ephesians 4:32 is quite clear…”be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” How do we do this? First off, look at Jesus’ example and see what He did for you and me. In His obedience to the Father, and in His love, He humbly gave His own life (Phil 2:8). This is the most kind action, ever. Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross for you and me! And we are saved and are given eternal life with Him when we believe in Him by faith. Christ came into this world to save sinners and he forgives and saves those who trust Him by faith. Acts 13:38-39 says, “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” He is the epitome of kindness. And because of salvation in Christ, we are saved from the slavery of sin and then we can obey Christ and be the kind of person that honors Him on our thinking and actions, obeying Him from a heart that is changed (Romans 6:17-18). The extraordinary result of Jesus saving us out of His kindness and grace is that now we can be kind to others and even and especially to those who make it a challenge. And make no mistake about it, the cost to accomplish this was great. You and I are the recipients of Jesus kindness, and His wonderful kind act opens for us spectacular opportunities to be kind to others despite a world that wouldn’t encourage us to act this way. And all of this is made possible by His great, kind sacrifice (1 Pet.2:21-25).
Being kind will cost you. Kindness will cost you time and it will require action and effort on your part. Kindness in conversations and actions with others take effort and determination with a focus on bringing glory to God. We must train ourselves to do this. While we would prefer quick solutions to conflicts and problems, that isn’t the case with every situation. What is the case with every situation is that we must wisely evaluate what is happening and be vigilant (Col. 4:2; 1Peter 5:8), be quick, active listeners (James 1:19). And then we must act and be determined in your response to be kind. (Eph 4:31-32). All of this takes time, energy, and focus to accomplish. Being kind in instances you don’t feel like it means being determined to honor Christ in your responses. And realizing that the importance of getting it right and doing what God requires and honoring Him is essential. Responding in Godly ways with kindness is real growth for us. While it takes time to make living this way a habit, it can be a real uplifting benefit to us in our Christian walk.