What Does Biblical Kindness Look Like? - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Everyday Living
February 17, 2019

What Does Biblical Kindness Look Like?

A smile on your way to class, a “One Free Drink” chip to BFCAT, an arm of support for a girl with a disability, a free swipe for a commuter, extra tutoring hours offered without extra pay, a door held open for another – we all have experienced acts of kindness. They warm our hearts, bring smiles to our faces, and stick with us for years to come. Annually, on November 13th, the world joins hands for World Kindness Day, a day highlighting random good deeds and positivity. But is this really what kindness is all about? Should kindness be reserved for one day a year? Is kindness just random acts? Who deserves our kindness? The Bible has much to say about kindness, and offers a perfect role model for us to follow – Jesus.

The Christmas season is a time of joy, happiness, and goodwill. Kindness abounds and a spirit of joviality and love permeates the crisp winter air. The unfortunate reality is that the Christmas spirit of December is quickly followed by the dreary debt of January. Quickly, the joy of the season turns into the grind of resolutions, and hearts slowly sink in longing anticipation of spring. The season of kindness over. But kindness is not a season or a feeling. It should not be reserved for one day out of the year.

Rather, kindness is a lifestyle. It is a daily practice. It is a choice. As Christians we are to grow in the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and kindness – and growth takes time. A seed does not transform into a tree overnight, but with careful watering, tending, and patience, a seed will slowly grow day-by-day into a strong towering tree. It is the same with kindness. We must be faithful every day to bear the good fruit of kindness. Being kind should be our default mode, a habit of goodwill, a heart of continual service every day of the year.

If kindness needs faithful practice every day, kindness also requires intentionality. Now, I’m not saying that we should never do random acts of kindness. Oftentimes, kind acts are on-the-spot, in the moment, and unplanned. However, we must be intentional. Either plan specific acts of kindness, or plan for the random; be ready to do good on-the-spot. Kindness is not when we feel like it or a random act here or there when we happen to think of it. Kindness requires a seeking out, a looking for the needs of others. During his life on earth, Jesus was a perfect emblem of this fruit of the spirit. For three years of ministry, he looked toward the needs of others, never turning them away. He could be counted on. How often today do we miss opportunities to show God’s love to others because we are too busy? We rush here and there, leaving the needs of others in a blur as we whiz past. Slow down and open your eyes. Jesus took the time, and you should too. So, slow down, make the time, and look for the needs of others. Be intentional in showing kindness; be consistent.

“Love your neighbor as yourself,” – the second greatest commandment. But, Lord, “who is my neighbor?” With this question, the Parable of the Good Samaritan was born. Here, a Jewish man was robbed and beaten, left to die. The Jewish priest and Levite passed by, but the Samaritan saved him. The point of Jesus’ story was this: everyone is your neighbor – the foreigner, the widow, the orphan, and even your enemy. We are to show merciful kindness to everyone. “The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless;” “Love your enemies…do good to them that hate you;” “he who does not love his brother, how is it possible for him to love God who is invisible?”

Time and again, God looks out for the cause of the widows and orphans; he cares deeply for the strangers in the land; he emphasizes love for family; he requires mercy and compassion for even your enemies. Oftentimes, we want to choose to whom we show kindness. Left to our own, we would limit kind acts to friends and people in authority above us, people from whom we can attain something in return. But Christ calls us to lower our eyes and look at those who are below, who have nothing, can offer nothing, have no defender. He calls us to welcome the foreigner, the rejected in our land.

Rather than revenge, He calls us to bless our enemies, knowing that through kindness, we can soften hearts. It is easy to get irritated at siblings, throw them under the bus, argue, fight, blame, or just plain ignore them, but Christ emphasizes mercy, patience, love, and kindness to our families. Friends are easy to love, but we are called to be a friend to the friendless. Kindness is selfless, compassionate, and merciful; its greatest power revealed in practice to our enemies and amongst the least of these. Love your neighbor; show kindness to EVERYONE.

For a perfect emblem of Biblical kindness, we need look no further than Jesus. Crowds followed Him and traveled miles just to hear him speak. Healing the sick, feeding the hungry, teaching the people, caring for the widow, and defending children, Jesus lived 33 years of perfect kindness. He is not asking any more of us than what He willingly practiced himself. Even on the cross, He displayed compassionate, merciful kindness praying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Defending the weak, poor, and needy, He stated, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Jesus was perfectly selfless in everything He did. Flowing unceasingly from Him, kindness was His lifestyle. He took notice for the cause of the needy, intentionally and consistently seeking them out, even when He was tired and weary. Without partiality, He was kind to everyone, even if they didn’t “deserve” it. He turned no one away. And by the shedding of his blood on the cross, He demonstrated His love for the entirety of humanity – the ultimate act of kindness. Christ is the perfect role model of kindness.

So, what does Biblical kindness look like? It looks like Christ. Not for just a season or one day of the year, kindness is for every moment of every day; it’s a habit, a lifestyle, a continual practice. It is intentional, taking time and patience, a giving of ourselves in “the busy,” even when we are “too tired.” And lastly, kindness is for absolutely everyone. As we intentionally show kindness each day, may we shine the light of Christ to a dying world in need of a savior, a generation in need of love and grace. Be Jesus to someone today and every day; make Him your role model and kindness your lifestyle.

-Olivia Forton ‘19

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Photo by Rémi Walle on Unsplash.