Why Be Kind to Others

Why Be Kind to Others

Richard Hollerman

Kindness is a missing virtue in our world, yet it would seem that nearly everyone appreciates the kindness extended to them. While this is a Christian virtue, we know that even unbelievers may offer at least a degree of kindness toward others. We may think of Paul’s shipwreck on his way to Rome (Acts 17). The apostle and his fellow-shipwreck victims were cast ashore on Malta, just south of Sicily. Luke described the welcome reception: “The natives showed us extraordinary kindness” for they “kindled a fire and received us all” (v. 2). We then read that Publius, a leading man of the island, “welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days” (v. 7).

While it may be out of character for an unbeliever, we must acknowledge that sometimes they may be kind and considerate to other people. You’ve experienced this just as I have. We need to acknowledge that there are Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and even atheists who may sometimes manifest a kind attitude toward us and others. It would be unfair for us to deny that no one can be kind unless he or she is a Christian. (We acknowledge that this is an “earthly” kind of kindness, mixed with other elements, since only the Christian is filled with the Spirit and manifests kindness as a fruit of the Spirit—Galatians 5:22-23.)

We use the English term, “kind” and “kindness,” but what do these words actually mean? Chrestos is sometimes translated as kind, and it means “good, gracious, kind” (cf. Ephesians 4:32). Agathos is translated as kind in Titus 2:5. Chrestotes (2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 2:22; Ephesians 2:7; Colossians 3:12; Titus 3:4) means “goodness of heart, kindness.” Philanthropia is another Greek noun that means “kindness” (Acts 28:2; Titus 3:4). (See W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.)

 

One late night when I was a new driver, I had a flat tire on a deserted stretch of highway, far from any town. I got out of the car and attempted to take the tire off, but I just couldn’t budge it. Here I was, alone at late night and without transportation. After a while, an older boy and his girlfriend stopped, got out, and discovered my hapless condition. Somehow, he was able to remove the tire and I went ahead and put on the spare. This stranger didn’t need to stop. He didn’t know me and it was late for him, just as it was for me. But he showed a kindness that I appreciated then and still remember this kind deed after so many years. People can be kind (even when their motives are not always peerless).

But here we are speaking of Christian kindness, a virtue that comes to us through the Holy Spirit’s work in our heart. In this respect, kindness is a fruit of the Spirit and if we are not kind people, we manifest that we are not really indwelt by the Holy Spirit—or are not allowing Him to work in our life. (Galatians 5:22-23). Let’s notice below a number of reasons why we should be kind.

Why Be Kind?

First, we should be kind because God Himself is kind and we should want to be like Him. Paul refers to our salvation when “the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared” (Titus 3:4). Through the kindness and love of God we are saved! Further, our Lord Jesus said, “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 mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). He then elaborates on these types of virtues—love, doing good, lending and reinforces this by saying, “He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (v. 35). We are to be kind and loving since God our Father is kind. Paul says, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1). Thus, if God is kind to His enemies and to all (Romans 2:4; 11:22; Ephesians 2:7; 1 Peter 2:3), we likewise should be filled with kindness.

Second, you should be kind because you wish to be a good example to your enemies and to all. Paul the apostle says that “in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12; cf. Titus 2:7). When someone looks at you and me, he should recognize that we are walking in the steps of the Lord Jesus (1 John 2:3-6; 1 Peter 2:21). The early enemies of Christ captured Peter and John and then recognized that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Likewise, people should be able to recognize that we have been with Jesus because we are kind just as He is kind. Remember that “children were brought to [Jesus] so that He might lay His hands on them and pray.” The Lord then said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:13-14). These children must have been willing to come to the Savior because they recognized His kindness toward them.

Third, you should be kind because you would like for your enemies and others to come to Christ for His forgiveness.  If an enemy finds you harsh, bitter, angry, resentful, closed, negative, or mean-spirited, you most likely will not make an impression on him. But if you treat him with kindness and consideration, this will go a long way toward opening his heart so that he will hear the gospel from your lips.

Fourth, you should be kind because you know that kindness is directly related to love, the greatest command and greatest obligation. Paul the apostle said, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous” (1 Corinthians 13:4). If you have a love for your neighbor, you will treat him kindly. If you are kind toward him, this will generally manifest a love for him. We noticed above that Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). If we love everyone—including our enemies—we will want to “do good” to them, and this attitude of doing good will express a kindness of attitude and action.

Fifth, you should be kind because you wish to be a light to the world.  Scripture says that we must be “blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). We can’t be “blameless” or “innocent” if we fail to have a kind disposition toward saints and sinners, alike. We can’t be a “light” to the world around us unless we manifest an extraordinary degree of kindness in all of our dealings with people. People are looking at your light and will be influenced by it (cf. Matthew 5:14-16).

Sixth, you should be kind because you want to be different from the world that often expresses an unkind attitude toward others. This earth is filled with violence, hostility, murder, and selfishness.  If we seek to treat others the way we want them to treat us (Luke 6:31), we will be careful to treat others with genuine kindness. Peter said that we are to be “harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit” (1 Peter 3:8). When we are “kindhearted” toward others, we will be motivated to have the whole range of spiritual fruit.  Let the world treat others with a lack of love and kindness, but we are to be different: we are to be kind.

Seventh, you should be kind because we want to overcome evil with good. When someone is harsh, belligerent, mean-spirited with you, how do you respond? Paul wrote, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). It is natural to be overcome by evil and sin. But it is supernatural for one to overcome evil with good—with a spirit of love and kindness. You may say, “But this is so hard!” Yes, it may be difficult, but it can be done with the help and power of God.

Eighth, you should be kind because you wish to manifest the fruit of the Spirit. If you are a follower of Christ, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. As the Spirit freely works in your heart and life, He will produce fruit of righteousness. One of these expressions of fruit would be “kindness” (Galatians 5:22). This “fruit” is possible since it “comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11).

Ninth, you should be kind because the world is often unkind. It has been said that to return evil for someone’s good is to be satanic, to return good to those who are good and evil to those who are evil is to be natural, but to return good for someone’s evil responses is divine. This is true of kindness as well. Instead of being unkind to the evil person, we need to be kind and loving toward him or her. Peter said that we are not to be “returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead” (1 Peter 3:9). Let’s be kind to people even when they may deserve justice. “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men” (Philippians 4:5). Similarly, let our kind spirit be known to all.

Tenth, you should be kind because kind people are the ones whom God receives. Jesus said, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). James also says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (4:6b). We must be humble of heart but in order to extend humility, we need to be kind to people. These virtues are found together. Humble and kind people are ones whom God indwells and receives.

Eleventh, you should be kind since this is the characteristic of God’s people. Although we live in a very unkind world, God’s people are to be different: They are kind.  Paul says, “Be kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:32). Wives are to display the grace of kindness (Titus 2:5). When the godly Christian woman Lydia died, this is the testimony that Luke gave of her: “This woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did” (Acts 9:36). This is the spirit that every sister (and brother) should manifest! Paul himself manifested this attitude of kindness (2 Corinthians 6:6) and we should be like him (Philippians 4:9). If we belong to God, we should be known as kind people!

Twelfth, you should be kind even to unkind, evil, and mean people. It is easier to be kind to those who are kind to us (cf. Matthew 5:43-47), but it is particularly important for us to be kind to those people who do not like us and do wrongful things toward us. It is also vital that we have a kind attitude toward people who are enmeshed in false teaching! Paul offers this counsel: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do this will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26). While we must sometimes “exhort in sound doctrine and . . . refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9), if the conditions are right, we also need to avoid quarrels, and need to be kind, able to teach, be patient, and gentle. Both our teaching of truth and our spirit of kindness are needed.

The God-like Quality of Kindness

As we noticed above, God is kind and our Lord Jesus Christ is kind. This means that we also are to be kind to all—whether this be our fellow-believers, our neighbors, or our enemies.

When you pick up your food at the grocery store, are you kind to the check-out girl? When you visit the post office to mail something, are you kind to other people in the line and to the clerk who weighs your package? When you interact with your brothers and sisters, your father and mother, or your children, do they know that you can be counted on to be kind toward them? When you have trouble with your car and must take it into the mechanic shop, are you kind to the workers? When you take your walk in the morning or evening, are you kind and loving toward those you greet?

We need to express kindness in the simple, everyday type of things that fill our day. When I had the opportunity to move into the house where I now live, I was at a loss to know what to do. I had never had a house before and so many repairs needed to be done! What was I to do? I had earlier taken a course in writing at a local junior college and the teacher I knew gave of his time, back-breaking efforts, and use of his pickup truck to help with the repairs and to help move out of storage and the apartment where I was living! He manifested extraordinary kindness, generosity, and involvement at just the time I needed it! How could I ever forget this kind gesture!

What about you? Are you kind to those in your own family? Are you kind to your husband even when he doesn’t treat you well, and are you kind to your wife when she fails to be all she should be? When your son or daughter fails to obey you completely, do you respond to them with kindness (and surely it must be a firm and authoritative kindness)? When your parents (who may not know the Lord) are not understanding or manifest a worldly attitude, do you continue to be kind and submissive toward them?

Fill your life with kind gestures each day. Write a note to someone you knew in the past—just to be kind. Give a gift to someone who is not expecting it—just to be kind. Say “Thank you” more often to one and all—just to be kind. Go “the second mile” to help someone in need—just to be kind. If you are baking bread or some other nutritious food, give some to another person—just to be kind. When someone says something mean, thoughtless, or hurtful to you, respond with a loving word of blessing—just to be kind. When someone knocks at your door with false teaching, greet the person with a smile and have a loving interaction—just to be kind.

One night, a neighbor knocked at my door. When I opened it, the man I didn’t know held out a basket with delicious and nutritious fruit. Why? Apparently he was seeking to be thoughtful, neighborly, and kind! Let’s do the same.

Kindness must be so much a part of the fabric of our character, that it comes naturally. It should be manifest in what we say and how we say it. Even the tone of our voice can reveal a kind disposition—or an unkind attitude. When you are dead and gone, will people remember your kindness toward them? Let’s live today as we would want God to find us when it comes time to die. Begin to be kind today!

 

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