“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” -Galatians 5:22,23 NIV
What is kindness? It is the act of recognizing the worth of another expressed through words and deeds. When we are kind toward someone we are saying “I see you as someone who has value and you matter to me”. The opposite of kindness is a self-centered disregard for others and leads to abuse, neglect and segregation. For a believers it was God’s kindness that wooed us to himself.
“God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” -Romans 2:4
Because God saw us as worthy of redemption he redeemed us. Our value can be measured in the sacrifice of Jesus. If ever you question your worth you need only look at the cross. Jesus did not suffer and die for worthless creatures but those with infinite value. Our worth motivated God the Father to sacrifice his only Son. This kindness leads us to repent of our rebellious and sinful way of life.
So having established that kindness was essential in establishing our relationship with God how does it impact our homes? Simply this way; a home that is flowing with kindness is a home that is affirming and confirming to our children their God given intrinsic value. And those who have discovered their value will be better able to see the value in others. Both inside and outside the home they will begin to see others through the eyes of Christ.
They will not see the hungry or homeless as worthless degenerates but as valuable people in need of compassion. They will not see those in opposition as those who need to be vilified but as those who are confused, deceived or ignorant and show them patience.
They will not see their talents and resources as only a means to meet their needs but as a stewardship to be used to help others.
“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” -Saint Basil, Bishop Of Cesarea
I want to dispel a misconception many have concerning kindness. Kindness is not like a senile grandmother who never “sees” anything wrong with her grandchildren. It is not kindness to passively ignore someone ruining their life. That is indifference. Remember the kindness of God leads us to repentance not further debauchery. So when we show kindness it is for the purpose of furthering the greatest good in another. Sometimes kindness looks severe.
“Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it …” -Psalm 141:5
Our children will learn kindness through our example. What do you say about those with whom you disagree? Is there an atmosphere of superiority in your home that breeds contempt for those who are unlike you? Remember our Lord was a friend of “sinners and tax collectors” and the reason for this is that he was able to look beyond their lifestyles and see them as those made in the image of God. He never compromised his ethics or morality (he couldn’t, he was God in the flesh) but he never turned away someone because they didn’t meet his standard of holiness. Otherwise we would have all been turned away.
Examine your heart. Allow God to give you insight into your prejudices and biases. We all have people whom we are unkind to and we all need to repent of these unkindness’s. Let God soften your heart towards the people who most disgust you and begin to speak of them with compassion and kindness. If you have some repentance to do before your family for the harsh and unkind remarks you have made then do it. Life is too short to have our lives reflect anything but the wondrous kindness of God.
“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” -Etienne de Grellet, Quaker Missionary