We are living in times that many consider unprecedented. We’ve had to live sequestered from one another for a considerable length of time. Even now, we are still wearing masks and socially distancing in many instances. Our work habits have changed, many of us have been working from home. We have discovered the usefulness of Zoom meetings, and the tragedy of not being in person. We have had to cancel or modify our family gatherings for a number of occasions. We have even found church gatherings to be modified in ways that are less than desirable.
All of the above, and more, have served to radically alter how we have interacted with one another. The art of human interaction is one that I believe should be practiced and tended to. I say art, because when we gather together there are all sorts of emotions, agendas, feelings, subtleties and anxieties which are present and at play. How we manage to maneuver among all of that with one another takes enormous amounts of empathy, understanding, accommodation, acceptance, and a real desire to leave the other knowing the depth of care, concern and love you have for them. Another way to say what needs to be present when we interact with each other would be to practice kindness.
What is kindness though? Kindness is described as “a type of behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward.”
Why is kindness important? Kindness is important because it lets the other know to what lengths you will go to be in relationship with them. Lots of people want to be in relationship with others, but often for the wrong reasons. To want a relationship with another in order to exploit, prey upon, manipulate, or otherwise use that person for one’s own desired goals is not healthy or fulfilling. Kindness says to the other, “I value you for you. I accept you for you. I genuinely care for and love you for you.”
We are not always kind to one another. We get into our own feelings, our own issues, our own angst, and suddenly we are projecting some of our stuff onto others. Recently I saw something that made me pause to consider the impact such a thing could have in our world. The statement was something to the effect, “Apologize even when you don’t think you’re wrong. Allow someone else to be right or win the argument. Give in when the situation becomes strained. You never know how difficult a day someone else is having, and how what you do and say can make a difference.”
The Bible has plenty to say about how we should treat one another…
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christforgave you.”Ephesians 4:32 ESV
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”Matthew 7:12 ESV
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.Luke 6:27 ESV
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”Proverbs 12:25
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”Galatians 6:9-10 ESV
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV
The world we live in is in short supply of kindness, and the thing is, it doesn’t cost us anything to be kind. A kind word, a kind action, a kind gesture, these are not costly on our part, but they may make all the difference to the one it is offered to. They may never know you were kind to them, and that’s okay. Kindness seeks the good for the other, not the acclamation for ourselves.If each of us would practice acts of kindness in what we say and do, how many people would be impacted? How many lives would be changed? Who would feel the love we so often talk about, but don’t seem as often to express?
I’ve lived long enough now to know what really matters to me. It no longer matters to me that I be right in an argument. It no longer matters to me that my opinion is heard. It no longer matters to me that I be first. It no longer matters to me that others get what they deserve. What matters to me is that others feel loved and accepted. What matters to me is that others experience a sense of compassion. What matters to me is that I forgive more than I condemn. What matters to me is that I be a source of beauty of spirit, and love, and peace, and above all of kindness.
I pray that you will find a real joy in being kind. It is a virtue worth practicing and giving away.
Blessings and Peace,