Over the 35 plus years of my work as a school administrator, the verse that I most frequently used with the children was Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another…”
The sheer number of times that I used that verse should emphasize the great biblical truth that human beings are not naturally bent towards kindness.
But as we studied the life of Ruth this past Sunday, we had another opportunity to gaze deeply into the heart of our Savior and realize that His love is rooted and grounded in kindness (see Titus 3:4-5). And therefore, our actions and behavior should be rooted in kindness as well.
Kindness is an interesting word in the scriptures. It is hard to differentiate the differences between Biblical terms like kindness, grace, mercy, love, compassion and so on. They have over lapping meanings. (A great example of that is found in Luke 6:35-36.)
Biblical kindness is much more than just the art of being nice. It is not just a mundane smile or some culturally gracious gestures. (Although those are always appreciated.) Biblical kindness is a lifestyle. It is an ongoing practice that routinely shows up in our everyday life. It is an intentional choice that we make.
As one author put it, when we are kind we are choosing to “furnish what is needed.”
So how do we do that this week? Well, let’s take a look at some real-life situations and ask ourselves, “What is needed?”
Your spouse is having a tough season. He or she is facing a preponderance of challenges (new stay-at-home skills, communication confrontations, a lack of privacy or fresh priorities that may include teaching children subjects long forgotten). What is needed? What variety of kindness should be extended?
Your boss seems stressed and loves passing the consequences of that emotional state on to you. What is needed? How can you respond with kindness?
Your friends all seem to be seeing the world from a different perspective. Some are more fearful than others. Some are more militant than others. Some see politics as the answer. Others are tentative with their opinions. What is needed? How can we share the love of Christ and demonstrate mercy, love, long-suffering and kindness? Who needs which word of encouragement?
No one can tell us exactly how to be kind in every situation. But the Lord did sweeten the deal with a promise of a reward if we make kindness a priority. Look at Proverbs 21:21: “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness and honor.”
So, this week, let’s keep asking the key question, “What is needed?” And then do it with gusto!