Why kindness matters
The current kindness drought
Kindness is hard to find these days. With the age of technology and social media upon us, everyone has found an outlet to express their voice. Although a good thing in its own right, this reality has also exposed the depravity to which even “nice people” can fall. Kindness, gentleness, and patience are no longer esteemed and valued. Passion, brash honesty (even at others’ expense), and self-confidence are hot commodities. There is easy justification for being rude to others, calling them out, and publicly ridiculing them if they express a contrary opinion. Cyberbullying is at an all-time high. The idea of being gentle, humble, and slow to speak is out of fashion. You probably won’t be praised for being a “kind” person.
But kindness matters. It matters to God. It matters to others. Before we continue to fight fire with fire (on Twitter or in person), I want to make the case for kindness. I want to do this because I believe kindness is what we need right now. And if you claim to follow Christ, I invite you to consider what I am about to say.
Really? Kind to everyone, all the time?
What does it mean to be kind? In essence, being kind is being considerate of others. It looks to value others and their needs ahead of your own. It takes others into account in ways that affect how you treat them. And in Scripture, we are called to be kind to everyone, all the time. Think about what Paul says to Timothy, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone” (2 Tim. 2:24). Here we see this contrast between someone who is always looking for ways to disagree and someone who is always looking for ways to show consideration for others.
This is not an optional endeavor for the believer. We are called to be kind to everyone, all the time. And kindness is not passivity, as we will learn. Kindness is not putting up with others’ sin. Kindness is not refusing to correct someone’s beliefs or actions. Rather, it is a posture. Kindness is resolving to value and consider others more than yourself.
Here are three biblical reasons why kindness matters.
1. Be kind because of spiritual warfare
Sin continues to war against us. Our sinful nature does not want us to be kind to others. However, one of the surest ways to fight against sin and fight for holiness is to pursue relentless kindness. Jesus referred to “peacemakers” as those who will be called “children of God” (Matt. 5:9). He said we must love those who are our enemies and do good to them (Luke. 6:35). Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit’s work in our lives, along with patience and gentleness (Gal. 5:22-23). God’s chosen people are to clothe themselves with kindness (Col. 3:12). Interestingly, almost every time scripture commands us to be kind, it is in direct contrast to sin. A great example is Ephesians 4:31-32 where believers are commanded to “put all anger away from you and be kind to one another.”
Relentless kindness has a way of killing the areas of our flesh that seek to defend ourselves, be angry or judgemental of others, or put our own needs first. When we choose to be unkind, we open the door for all kinds of sinfulness that will wreck havoc in our souls. As counter-intuitive as it seems, kindness is a powerful weapon in the war against sin.
Do you want to wage war against your sin? Be relentlessly kind.
2. Be kind because of the mission
We know that certain community virtues (like love and peace) provide a picture to a watching world of the God we say we follow. Jesus said that they will know we are his because of our love for one another (John 13:35). However, Paul makes a striking connection in 2 Timothy between our choice to be kind and our effectiveness in evangelism. Hear these words:
“24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
Do you see Paul’s argument? The servant of God must be relentlessly kind to everyone (even their enemies), patiently putting up with evil done against them, and when they correct their enemies, they do so with gentleness and respect. Why do we do this? So that God may grant them repentance! There is a clear connection between our kindness and our effectiveness. Somehow, our relentless kindness in the face of opposition and evil (which includes teaching and correcting) may make those without the truth “come to their senses” and receive the truth.
Do you want to be effective for the mission of Christ? Be relentlessly kind.
3. Be kind because of the gospel
Perhaps the most important reason Christians should be relentlessly kind is because Christ has been relentlessly kind towards us. We have received unreasonable mercy and consistently throughout the scriptures we see that those who have received mercy should show mercy. It was the “kindness and love of God our Savior” that caused him to save us (Titus 3:4-6). Paul is clear in Ephesians 2:7 that the reason God made us alive is so that “in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” The reason God saved us was to show how relentlessly kind he is to sinners.
The implication is clear for us. If we have received kindness, we should show kindness. And kindness is not silence or passivity. It was the kindness of God that drove him to send Jesus to die for our sins. In the same way, our kindness should drive us to action. We will sacrifice for others, sympathize with others, give to others, speak to others, correct others, and share the gospel with others. However, our posture must always be one of gentleness, respect, and kindness.
Do you want to understand and reflect the gospel with your life? Be relentlessly kind.
The world, the flesh, and the devil are all waging war against kindness. It is not popular to be kind, it is not natural to be kind, and the Devil would like nothing more than for kindness to wane. But this is why being relentlessly kind matters so much. Our kindness is a picture of the goodness of God that people desperately need to see. God has offered his kindness to us in the gospel. People need God’s kindness. Otherwise, they will perish. Christian, let us be kind.