Being kind is one of those characteristics that we sort of take for granted. We tend to think that if we are nice to people, we are also kind, but actually that’s not true. They aren’t the same thing. To be nice is to be pleasant, agreeable, delightful, and friendly. To be kind is to show people goodwill, affection, concern and care, serving them with an act of assistance or help. Being kind isn’t just an adjective, it actually involves doing something, usually for the benefit of someone else.
It doesn’t seem like it would be that hard right? I mean, if you asked your friends if they thought you were kind most of them would probably say yes. They are your friends so you’ve probably had plenty of opportunity to show them kindness and not thought twice about it.
But what about the people who you find it hard to be kind to? Those who irritate you and get under your skin? Or the people who are just downright rude? It’s ok not to be kind to them isn’t it? Because they aren’t deserving or just make it too hard. But if you have an opportunity to be kind, and you choose not to be, are you then being unkind?
The thing about kindness is that it shouldn’t be exclusive, it should be inclusive. Meaning that if you want to be a kind person you need to be willing to show kindness to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they are someone you like or not. It’s going the extra mile for someone who has never helped you, or perhaps it’s sacrificing your Starbucks so you can buy one for the homeless person you see every day. Or perhaps it could be that you go out of your way to show care and concern for someone who’s always rude and grumpy to you.
There’s endless ways to show kindness to others, but it really is something that you have to actively choose to do, and in a world where there is so much cruelty I think it’s important now more than ever, to bring more kindness into the world.
“Don’t push your way to the front; Don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” – Philippians 2:3-4
As a Christian, I have definitely found myself challenged by this, and as someone who can have a short temper and struggle with patience, it doesn’t come naturally to me to show love to people I don’t particularly like.
Jesus talks about this in the bible when he says: “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbour’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies!” – Matthew 5:43-44.
This is something that he was definitely a great example of, all the accounts written about his life speak of acts of service and love, even to people who had no respect or regard for him. To those who whipped, beat and humiliated him, never did he use his power to hurt them.
Sometimes we just have to remember that it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, we just need to choose what sort of person we want to be. I learnt this lesson a while ago when I didn’t particularly like someone, so when opportunities came up for me to put aside my feelings and show kindness, often I chose not to. I didn’t go out of my way to build up a relationship, I didn’t always go the extra mile when I could have, and I didn’t show much care or concern for them. But the thing is, despite how much I felt I was justified in being frustrated with them, I always walked away feeling guilty about my actions. Why? Because the truth is it doesn’t matter what sort of person they are, it matters what sort of person I am.
I’m a Christian and I’m supposed to be showing people the love of Jesus. I’m also an impatient, grumpy person myself at times, and I want others to show me kindness even when I don’t deserve it. How can I expect that from people when I myself can’t do the same thing?
I decided to change my attitude and make more effort, and sometimes those were small, subtle victories that other people wouldn’t even notice. But I knew what I was doing differently and I knew that God knew what I was doing differently.
This isn’t something that you suddenly just get right every day but as long as you’re trying, you’re guaranteed to be adding splashes of kindness into this world, and you definitely will never regret that!
“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behaviour: ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the loveable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. I tell you, love your enemies. Give without expecting a return. You’ll never – I promise – regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives towards us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.”
– Luke 6:31-36