Definition: Showing a genuine, harmonious attitude toward others
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other,
just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Eph.4:32
All of God’s multifaceted character stems from the same root - His love. Another facet of His glory is kindness. Often the Old Testament speaks of Jehovah’s lovingkindness – a word which combine two root words, love and kindness, into one word. Lovingkindness is from the Hebrew word, (that takes two English words to translate), chesed. One O.T scholar, Mont Smith, teaches that chesed is the closest equivalent for the Greek word agape. This word, chesed , best captures the core values of the covenant-giving God as He reveals Himself in the Old Testament. (Covenant = Hesed in Hebrew) In other words, God chose to chiefly identify with this characteristic in His covenantal relationship with man from Abram onward unto Moses.
“I am the Lord, who exercises lovingkindness”, thundered Jeremiah to the rebellious Jews during the final destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Another prophetic counterpart, Hosea, wrote,
“ I will betroth you (Israel) forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, lovingkindness and compassion. Then you will know the Lord.” Hos. 2:19-20
Clearly, “even” in the Old Testament, God desired that we understand that He’s a kind God. The triune godhead is always in perfect harmony.
Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father were one: “ ...that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they may be in Us ... I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity...” Jn.17:21,23 The model of kindness derives, as all else, from God’s own essential unity of being where no friction or competition ever occur. The Deity has three distinct personalities, Father, Son and Holy Spirit that never compete, but complement each other in perfect unity. So must we. The church is the body of Christ, the temple of the God and of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor.6:19; II Cor. 6:18) There are not three separate apartments in our body/soul for each manifested person of the godhead! (The Father takes the head, Son - the chest, Holy Spirit - the legs.) Compare God’s total union of power, purpose and prestige with the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, who were always jealously vying with each other.
We must be kind to our fellow saints because we are children of God, and share in all of His character. Being unkind is like sawing off your right arm to spite the left arm! We are all one body, all bonded together by intricate ties of God’s grace, love and Spirit and our mutual faith and immersion. We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord. By our love they shall know that we are His disciples. Unkindness is as unnatural for a true Christian as a cat in water!
How can we be kind in a rough and toughening world of crudity and uncouth men and women? Don’t only the fittest survive? Mustn’t we fight for everything we want, and don’t nice guys always finish last? Isn’t being kind a luxury that we just cannot afford as we struggle to protect our rights and avoid being trampled under foot? Faith in the invisible God is the answer. Surely God can still reward and protect the righteous!
Consider Ruth and Naomi. After her husband and sons sudden deaths, the Ruth made her famous pledge of her loyalty to her now-widowed mother-in-law.
“You left her father and mother and the land of her birth to come to a people that she did not previously know,” said the admiring kinsmen redeemer, Boaz. (Ruth 2:11) Then she came to offer herself as a wife to him, an older man. He then exclaimed:
“May the you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown our last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men whether poor or rich.” Ruth 3:10
Ruth didn’t strive after personal satisfaction or push people around in frustration and bitterness because God took away her husband. She was a “woman of excellence” (3:11) Her kindness was amply rewarded by God in getting a kind, generous and rich husband, and children, of which one, Obed, would become the grandfather of King David. Not bad for a foreign woman in a strange land!
Every act of kindness is noticed and rewarded by God. Jesus said that even a cup of cold water would not go unnoticed in heaven. The kind touch, the sweet smile, the soothing word whispered – all are acts of kindness pleasing to God. So often it costs us so little just to be kind. Why be a grumpy old warthog and drive everybody to unhappiness. Why not spread a little sunshine around and brighten the corner where you are? Are you so bitter? Has life been so unfair? We must not let the root of bitterness defile us! (Heb12:15) Remember these words from Hebrews 13:1-3
- Let the love of the brethren continue.
- Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
- Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.
Also read these further words from Hebrews:
“But beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.”
Kindness demonstrates our gratitude to God and belief that He will justly reward us for suffering and sacrificing now while we sojourn on earth. Perhaps you’ve been treated with little kindness in a cruel and uncaring world. Let God’s love heal your broken heart, and decide to give to your neighbor the milk of human kindness so that your light can shine. Be better. Be different. Be kind!
Jesus used the example of the kind Samaritan as a perfect illustration of the type of people who will inherit eternal life. Notice that Jesus emphasized what the Samaritan actually did for crime victim, not just for some nice tender thoughts that he had about him. Faith without works is dead, dear brothers, and kindness must be in word and deed. It cost the Samaritan much “wasted” time, energy and money, plus it was dangerous work since the thieves could have been close by. His travel plans were spoiled, and he also crossed over some social barriers of racial prejudice in helping a Jew, who as despised the Samaritans people. The Samaritan was not orthodox in his beliefs, actually even being wrong, and, for the Jews, even worse, he was not even a pure-blooded descendant of Abraham, being of a mixed race. Yet Jesus still drove this Samaritan’s righteousness into the face of that smart lawyer, as a perfect example of one who was really following God’s Shema, or Great Law of love. Think about it.