So what happens that causes us to lose the basic human expression of kindness? Well, we find out that being sarcastic will get you a laugh. We find that everyone wasn’t raised by parents who taught kindness. We see that back-stabbing can accomplish some things that a smile will not. We find that offering a fake smile can do the same thing back-stabbing can, but with less blood. We learn that kindness is seen as weakness. And eventually, when enough people have ditched true kindness, people begin to assume that every act of kindness is simply a way to get what you want. Kindness is now actually used as a ploy to get your way, or seen as a ploy to get what you want. This goes against the very nature of what it means to be kind.
To be kind is to, “have or show a gentle nature and a desire to help others : wanting and liking to do good things and to bring happiness to others.” We see a pure form of this sometimes, and we are in awe. When someone does something very nice for another person without any fanfare, we can be brought to tears. Kindness is that activity which if everyone would practice it every day, the world would surely be a better place. It is helping an older person across the street, or teaching them how to use their phone to skype with their grandchildren. It is buying a homeless person a steak dinner when they just tried to hustle you out of $1.87. It is the cashier finding that the snacks she just scanned for you are really for her next break. And it is doing these things because you want to.
Some people force themselves to do kind things. I suppose this is better than avoiding the kind thing simply because they are actually mean. But it is better for kindness to flow from who you actually are. The apostle Paul was writing to a people who had a skewed understanding of personal relationships, and in describing love he said, “Love is kind.” Notice that he didn’t say, “Love tries to be kind,” or “Love works up kindness.” He said, “Love is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Kindness is in the nature of love. But remember, this ‘love’ is a self-sacrificing, putting others first, not looking for a medal kind of love. Being kind is what naturally happens when you truly love.
Kindness is not something you should turn on and off according to the situation. A loving person is kind regardless of the situation or circumstances. Think of the kindest person in your life. Why would you classify them as kind? What do they do that is kind? Are they only kind when it benefits them? Do you think being kind is a chore for them? How does their kindness affect how you view them as a person?
Now… would anyone in your life think of you as the kindest person they know? That may not be a fair question… but I think it is a good one. The goal in life is not to perform random acts of kindness (which is not a bad thing). The goal is to intentionally love people as God does, and watch the kindness flow from within and change lives. Today, have a gentle nature and desire to help others. Not to make a sale, but to build a person. Truly desire to do good things and bring happiness to others. Not to get a discount on your purchase, but to make someone else’s world a better place.
For more from the "What is Love?" series...
Love is Patient
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.