Kindness ~ A gift for others

Kindness is key3For the last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about kindness. First focusing on God’s gift of kindness to us and next the importance of giving the gift of kindness to ourselves. God’s kindness to us and our ability to be kind to ourselves, are important building blocks to being kind to each other. They pave the way.

I have struggled with writing this post far more than I expected. Which surprises me. How hard is it to say be kind!

In our day of media saturation, diversity, and polarized politics, kindness seems illusive. It’s seen as weakness, or acquiescing, or even losing faith. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our relationships spread out in ripples starting with those closest to us, family, and moving out broader and broader; co-workers, church, community, region, country, world. We cannot neglect kindness close to home any more than in how we treat humanity broadly.

I would like to say I’ve learned this lesson, of passing kindness out to everyone as if it were as free and plentiful as air. But I haven’t. My face burns with shame at the fire hot words that all too often seer my children’s hearts. I can be stingy with the gift of kindness, even when I’ve received it in abundance.

Until we understand our absolute need for God’s kindness to us, and how little we actually deserve it, kindness will clog in our hearts at important moments. 

Kindness is crucial. It shapes hearts. Our kids are thirsty for it. Our spouses crave it. The lady in the checkout with the sad eyes would welcome it. The hard heart is surprised by it. We cannot neglect kindness. (I am preaching to myself right there, if you need the sermon too, then you’re welcome!)

I think the hardest people to be kind to is those who see life very differently than we do.

Romans 2:4, Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

That’s a shocking concept isn’t it. What leads people to repentance? Judgement, fear, condemnation, shame a sound talking to? No, kindness. If God is content to approach the world’s sin problem with kindness instead of an angry fist, shouldn’t we as his followers be also? Don’t get me wrong, I recognize other passages in scripture talk about God’s wrath. And I believe he will judge and punish all who have not received his gift of forgiveness. But this is the age of mercy, the age of wrath is yet to come.

Mercy is at the heart of all God does. We are most like God when we are merciful. – Alice Smith

I have been in many situations that have shown me the value of kindness. None more clearly than one late summer day in Alabama. Taking my son to school I passed a young person walking in the same direction. A twinge in my heart said, “give them a ride.” I said, “no way!” But after dropping Max off and heading back home I knew I had to obey. As the person, whom I assumed to be a tall, willowy young woman, came into sight the song “Jesus Friend of Sinners” came on the radio. I pulled over.

When the young man looked into the car window my heart skipped a beat. I offered a ride. Which he accepted. And I drove him to Wal-Mart in the next town over. At the time North Carolina was boiling with the debate of gay marriage. My family was at odds. Members firmly on opposite sides. And here sat this young man, painted fingernails, eyeliner, and a broken heart. He told me a story of abandonment. It cracked my heart and my pride wide open.

After dropping him off, and inviting him to our church potluck, I headed back home. My mind was reeling. My ideology had been confronted by a person. On the drive home I prayed, and this is what God said as clearly as if he had spoken. “I wanted you to see my plan of kindness in that young man’s life. He had prayed for a ride and I used you as the answer. You were meant to serve him, because I had purposed to serve him. I have chosen him for my kindness.”

This young man broke the mold of who I thought deserved God’s kindness, of whose prayers God would answer. God had called me to be a witness of his love.

I wanted to fall on my face in shame and worship. The God who loves everyone, not just a select few, was bigger than I had ever seen before.

Now, my understanding of God’s plan for human sexuality according to his word has not changed. If anything I am more passionate about holding out the truth of reconciliation with God, ourselves, others, and all of creation. But my understanding of what that looks like changed radically. Kindness. Mercy. Compassion. They took on new meaning.

Can I tell you; I would have baked the wedding cake in Oregon for the gay couple, and I would have asked to attend. If we believe the gospel accounts of Jesus, then I think it’s very possible he would have too. Not because he doesn’t call people to holy living, but because he shows up where they are first.

And that’s the heart of kindness. Showing up. Show up for the conversation at the dinner table with your precious family and use words of love. Show up at the hospital and cheer your friend. Show up in the orphanage and listen to the orphan and the worker doing a harder job than you can imagine. Show up to the jail, the run down house, the food stamp office. Show up to the boss’ Christmas party and spread gratitude, joy, and when necessary sobriety. Show up. Not to correct or criticize or condemn. Show up to be kind.

Can I also say; the strength of the church’s kindness is more important than whether we “win” this country back or not. The country was never actually ours. Every kingdom rests solely in God’s hands. The kingdom of heaven is ours, and that’s better than any country. We are not responsible for the government. We are responsible to living lives of faith, of praying for leaders, of clinging to hope, of overflowing with joy, of loving our spouses and children well, of sharing the good news that Jesus came not to condemn but to save, of being KIND.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25

Please no more posts about those “idiots” in any political camp. No more outrage or shock when broken, sin sick, people act like it. No more pointing fingers and calling outs. No more zingers, and poking fun. No more claiming “my rights!” If we tend to our own holiness, and goodness knows we need to, and offer kindness in Jesus name our light will be radiant.

No one is going to have a conversation with a person shouting at them. If you want to make a difference. Set the table for conversation. Be kind.

Are there people it’s hard for you to be kind to? Black, white, foreign, conservative, liberal, Muslim, atheist, Pentecostal, poor, rich, sister-in-law, husband? It can be anyone, we all have our prejudices and weaknesses. If so, have you accepted God’s generous gift of kindness to you? Are you willing to extend kindness to yourself? Maybe you need to start there.

Let’s pray: Father, the evidence of walking by your Spirit is kindness. We can not live kind lives on our own. I know I can’t. It’s only by your Spirit. Won’t you inspire us with your kindness, help us be kind to ourselves, and give us eyes to see opportunities to be kind to others this week. Thank you. Amen.

{Next week we’ll be talking about receiving kindness from others.}

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2 thoughts on “Kindness ~ A gift for others

  1. Pingback: Kindness ~ A gift worth receiving | The Accidental Mama

  2. Pingback: Someone Kind | The Accidental Mama

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