I am fascinated by the word kind and the connotations people conjure up when they hear it. Personally, I think this word often gets thought of in a similar way to the word ‘nice’ which is such a bland word and one that has become widely overused. It has become such a bleurgh word and almost an insult. In fact, as a primary school teacher, we actively teach children not to use this word and encourage them to find another that is more interesting or exciting.
So, intrigued I looked up the definition of kind and it is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. The plural of kind is kindness and some of my favourite synonyms for kindness are: compassion, sympathy, hospitality, generosity, tolerance altruism (selfless concern for the well being of others), and patience to name but a few.
Suddenly, kindness takes on a whole new importance for me as it encompasses so many other fabulous attributes.
In the bible, the definition of kindness is: an attribute of God and a quality desirable but not consistently found in humans. It’s interesting that it is seen as a desirable quality but one that is not consistently found in humans. As an attribute of God, it is one of the nine fruits of the spirit and reveals just a minuscule portion of God’s nature. Having looked at the list of synonyms for kindness we can see that it has a wider meaning than maybe we first realised and this is true of all the fruits of the spirit (see my last post on Love).
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
God encourages us through scripture to put on a heart of kindness so, it is obviously of high importance to him and something that should make us stand out from the crowd when we put it on.
Col 3:12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;
In fact, when we live a life that demonstrates the fruits of the spirit we should be easy to recognise, a people that stand out for all the right reasons.
Scripture tells us,
Matt 7:16 By their fruit you will recognise them.
As humans, we are naturally inclined to be selfish and put our own interests first, prioritising a life that pleases us. The media actively encourages people to live like this, be your own person, get what you want, get what you can while you can, the ‘you only live once’ approach to living.
In today’s society, living a Christian life that is personified by kindness, going out of your way to demonstrate small acts of daily kindness is counter culture. If we have a new nature once we become spirit filled Christians then showing kindness should come easy to us and something that naturally flows out of us into the world and people around us.
We become clear signposts that point to Jesus as we go about doing good like Jesus did.
Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
When you live intentionally being kind to those around you, you are Jesus to those you meet. Evangelism becomes a whole lot simpler and the pressure is off you as you just have to show kindness and love to those you meet. This can look different with each person you meet, like opening a door for someone, buying someone a coffee who is on the streets, leaving someone flowers on their desk, having people round for dinner who may be lonely and the list goes on and on. I have found that people, especially strangers, are generally taken aback when people show them kindness and expect nothing in return. In fact, they can be quite suspicious as they are expecting it’s going to cost them something in return because nobody does something for nothing, right?
Wrong! That is what is so awesome about showing kindness, especially to strangers because it blows up their preconceptions about humans and its just so easy to do and such fun. When you show kindness, not only does the person on the receiving end get blessed, but the thing is that the giver also gets blessed, so it’s a win-win situation.
I have been particularly excited about the following campaigns around kindness:
Kind Campaign this is a non-profit organisation to bring healing to girls who have suffered from girl on girl bullying.
Pay it Forward, which is celebrated each year on the 28th April (this is the 8th year), when people will be invited to join a worldwide movement in performing random acts of kindness to 3 or more people and asking those people to do the same. Last year, people in 80 countries took part in Pay it Forward Day and this year, they are hoping to inspire over 10 million acts of kindness-wow!
Anyone can participate in Pay it Forward Day – all you need to do is do something for someone else without expecting anything in return. Buy someone a coffee, pay for someone’s parking – and ask them to do the same to 3 more people. Who wouldn’t want to be involved with this?
Here are some other ideas (from Pay it Forwards awesome website:
- help carry the shopping
- help wash and clean the car
- tidy up the toys
- tidy up your room
- water the garden
- read to a young sibling
- setting the table
- thanking someone
- ringing a sick friend or sending a card
- walk the dog, feed the cat, talk to the bird, clean the fish tank
You can even do this in your place of work, school, college etc. Check out their website if this is something you think you could introduce to your workplace like we have at mine. This year we have paired up with other members of staff (anonymously) so you don’t know who your kind acts partner is. You spend the year leaving anonymous notes, cards, gifts (use your imagination) and they don’t know who they are from but they just get to enjoy the surprise and the encouragement.
I love the Random Acts of Kindness and their advertising campaign to be a ‘RAKtivist’ (Random acts of Kindness activist), ambassadors of kind. These are people who believe kindness can change the world, one act at a time.
So, it seems that being kind is suddenly in the spotlight and this can only be a good thing for the world we live in today, that is so desperately in need of people who show kindness to each other.
As Christians, kindness should never go out of fashion and I love this scripture that encourages us to always put on kindness, amongst other things. Whatever we are reaching for in the wardrobe for the day ahead, always remember to reach for kindness.
Col 3:12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
I love the idea of anonymous, random acts of kindness every day and will continue to be on the lookout for people who need kindness in their life (let’s face it, that’s everyone). Kindness has such a big impact on someone’s day and can, in an instant, make the recipient feel valued and seen. It can be absolutely free too, you don’t have to spend money to make someone feel special. Your words can have such a big impact and as Christians we know that our words are life giving and as we speak we can bring hope into a dark situation just with the utterance from our mouths.
In the words of Mother Teresa;
‘Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.’
What can you do today to leave a trail of kindness behind you?
Fruits of the Spirit series…