Appreciating Kindness as God’s Grace

file000533175307How do you feel when people are kind to you? I can get pretty emotional about it, and lately that seems to be happening a lot. Maybe because I’m experiencing more kindness, or maybe because I’m recognizing it more, or perhaps some of both. In any case I seem to be surrounded by kindness. My wife is kind to me. My boss, my coworkers, and my friends are kind to me. Even people I don’t know all that well have been extending their kindness to me, and all that has me thinking about kindness.

What is kindness anyway? I know it when I see it, but trying to exactly define it is challenging. Here’s one dictionary entry I found.

noun: kindness – the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

That sounds about right, but might it be just a little bit “flat” or understated? As I’m experiencing it, kindness is an extraordinary level of being friendly, generous and considerate. That sounds better to me. Kindness is out of the ordinary, unexpected, something unusual. You don’t find it everywhere.

Where you do find it, you can be sure that God, the source of all goodness, is at work. So-called “random acts of kindness” are not for Christians. Rather as we follow Jesus we are commanded to become kind.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-31

Fortunately, we know that God changes us from the inside to get us there. All we need to do is cooperate with him.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

As God works in us, kindness doesn’t just show up by itself. How can one be kind without being loving, without true care and concern for others? And doesn’t kindness also require empathy, an appreciation for the other person’s feelings? Is it possible to be kind without being gentle? A moment’s consideration shows us that kindness is just one part of the total package of the personality makeover God has for us.

That insight, seeing kindness as God’s love in action, gives understanding to my sometimes intense emotional reaction to kindness. Why shouldn’t I get teary eyed with gratitude when experiencing God’s grace? Seems natural actually. What better to be grateful about than the work of God in my life? I praise God for the kindness I’ve been shown, and I pray to become a kinder person myself.

Of course I’m not only grateful to God, I’m grateful to those individuals who have been and are kind to me, many of whom may be reading this blog. You know who you are. Thank you for your kindness. I appreciate you.