“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel” (Proverbs 11:17, New Living Translation).
Everyone needs a little kindness in their life—to give some and to receive some. But what is kindness? Or is it even easily definable? Urbandictionary.com says it is “doing something and not expecting anything in return. Kindness is respect and helping others without waiting for someone to help one back. It implies kindness no matter what.” Someone else described it as love in action. While we may not be able to adequately define kindness, we do know it is listed as fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and should be evident in every believer’s life.
Think of the many examples of kindness told in the Bible. Ruth left her own country and people to show great kindness to her mother-in-law, Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17). King David sought to show kindness to any remaining members of Saul’s household, and Mephibosheth was brought to him (II Samuel 9). Barnabas accepted Saul, the former persecutor of the church, and defended him to the apostles (Acts 9:26-27). Dorcas made clothing (Acts 9:36-40).
We Have Stories to Tell
If I were to ask what act of kindness has been done for you, each would have a story to tell. Or many stories. While the media often focuses on the evils done to others, many good things quietly happen around us every day. I personally know someone who donated a kidney to a mother with young children. I’ve known others who anonymously paid a past due mortgage, someone’s travel expenses, and a student’s tuition. Not all acts of kindness are of this magnitude. It may be something as simple as a warm smile, holding a door, or offering an umbrella on a rainy day. They can be little things or bigger things. Regardless of their size, they make the world a nicer place.
Kindness Is a Language
Mark Twain expressed it this way: “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” So, how do we put more kindness into each day? By opening our eyes to opportunities around us. We just need to slow down long enough to notice. Acts of kindness are our way to make this world a more God-like place. It is so closely entwined with love that the two can’t be separated.
Kindness does as much (or more) for the giver as for the receiver. Proverbs 11:17 tells us when we are kind to others, we are nourishing our own soul. It enriches our lives.
We all entered this world as helpless babies dependent on the kindness and nurturing of others. This need for kindness and love does not go away once we become adults. While I suppose it may be possible to live without love and kindness, it is impossible to thrive without them. People feel valued when others show touch their lives. We have the ability—and the mandate from God—to provide that to everyone we meet.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12, NKJV).
Your Challenge: Become intentional in looking for ways to show kindness to several each day. Make sure that at least one of those acts of kindness is for a stranger.