We’ve heard and seen it-the sarcastic remark disguised as humor, being ignored in a group conversation, or watching a driver swerve into the parking spot when you had your turn signal on.
But we have easily spotted the opposite- kindness- a word, attitude, or action that changes the people and the atmosphere in a room for the better. We might call it friendliness, warmth, and gentleness. It may accompany care, concern, and generosity. Sometimes it’s seen as taking the higher road when another is rude or mean-spirited.
Though kindness is gentle, it is far from weak. It often requires grace under pressure, and self-control in a difficult conversation.
Like gratitude, kindness has positive effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health. It is also part of our spiritual growth, and profoundly affects our spiritual life and interactions with our “one anothers”.
February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day. It’s a day to especially focus on kindness. But, just because a day is designated, does that mean it’s optional on other days?
Kindness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22 “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Kindness is an outcome of being Spirit-filled rather than focusing on ourselves and personal agenda.
Kindness is part of our wardrobe. “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12. When we wear it, others notice. It’s an appealing fashion statement. Unlike clothes we rotate in our closets, we can wear kindness in any season.
Kindness should be a trademark of our lifestyle, reflecting the lavish gifts we have received: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Kindness is a choice: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3 In any moment, on any day, when we make choices, let’s reach for kindness.
Kindness is admired and promotes healthy relationships. “What is desired in a man is kindness.” Proverbs 19:22
“…we have often tended to value smart over kind and being right…. It’s not that we can’t be both kind and smart or kind and right, but on those occasions when we have to choose between them, choosing kind is also our path to peace.” Donna Cameron author of A Year of Living Kindly
Kindness is part of character growth. “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5-8 Developing these qualities leads to effective and fruitful living.
Kindness can be a response to difficult people in our lives and those with whom we have a conflict. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; Matthew 5:44. Sometimes, kindness can be an act of courage and restraint.
Words, including an outsider in a conversation, deferring in a parking lot. What’s on your list? How will you invest in kindness on February 17, and on the remaining days in the year?
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” —Aesop.