Week One of my love challenge was the never ending struggle of displaying a sense of patience. Much like every person I have ever met, I have a very specific set of stressors that cause me to lose my cool and become a bit of an impatient toe tapper. I was challenged, to say the least. The next element of displaying Godly love is kindness. I needed to look this one up. My thoughts were "okay, so I just need to be nice this week? No problem!" For the sake of keeping this Love Challenge, an actual challenge, I decided against looking at this week as the easy week and learn what true Godly kindness is...
What is kindness?Kindness starts with caring—being tenderhearted and compassionate toward others. If God wants us to be kind to animals, how much more to people! (See Proverbs 12:10).
Next, we must make it our goal and habit to be actively looking for opportunities to show kindness. When we see one, we need to act quickly before the opportunity is gone.
The Greek word for "kind" is chrestos. Part of its meaning is useful, which makes it clear that biblical kindness involves action. "Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions" (1 John 3:18, New Living Translation, emphasis added throughout).
Action includes some kind of self-sacrifice and therefore generosity on our part, especially of our time. (That doesn't mean we neglect sufficient rest and whatever is needed to refill our own well.)
Of course, the emphasis on deeds over mere words does not mean words are unnecessary. Action includes words. Encouraging words of comfort, courtesy, compliments and even correction can be heartwarming acts of kindness. Several biblical proverbs attest to this.
What to say and not say should be guided by awareness of the sensitivities of others. We must help people heal from their emotional wounds rather than rubbing salt in those wounds. Sadly, when people know what "buttons to push," they often use that insight to further hurt each other.
Our motive for "charitable deeds" should not be to impress people (Matthew 6:1-4). The greatest rewards from God come when our acts of kindness are done humbly, quietly and, when practical, anonymously.
Doing someone a favor to get a favor in return is not wrong unless it's illegal or unethical (like bribery). But a favor done to get some benefit is not true kindness. Genuine kindness is lending a helping hand when you expect nothing in return.
Kindness should begin with our kin. Ironically and tragically, many people display their most unkind behavior with the ones they should love the most. God is not unaware of this hypocrisy.
And Jesus Christ emphasized that we must be kind to everyone, not just our family and friends (Luke 6:31-34). If you do this, "your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to [even] the unthankful and evil" (verse 35).
(from the amazing site http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/fruit-spirit-kindness-heart-helping-hand/ . I often reference this site when I need to take a deeper look at something that seems far too simple)
Clearly I am up for a bit more of a challenge than simply "being nice." Week 2? Be kind.