Recently I was asked to write an article for The Lutheran Ambassador, the magazine published by my denomination (AFLC). Their theme for June is the fruit of the Spirit, and the topic I was given was kindness. You can read it below. You can also subscribe to The Lutheran Ambassador for free by following this link https://www.aflc.org/lutheran-ambassador!
Kindness. We know it when we see it, but it’s hard to pin down a definition. Google it and you’ll find it described as:
“the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate”
Aren’t these three different things? Do we have to have them all simultaneously to be considered kind? The short answer is “no.” Kindness is both more and less than this. We don’t have to display a certain list of attributes in order to be kind. Kindness can be as simple as responding courteously, or as complicated as taking the time to listen to another person and help them work through a difficult situation. It can cost nothing financially, or it can cost a great deal. It can take a few seconds, or years. Kindness is not a particular response, it is a particular mindset: one of looking at the one person right in front of you, empathizing with them, and then trying to meet their needs. It means getting out of the self-centered default position that normally controls our brains (in other words, sin) and putting on the mind of Christ. As we are told in the book of Philippians: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” Philippians 2:3
Jesus models this for us. He saw that the woman at the well needed understanding; Zachaeus needed friendship; the leper needed to be touched; Thomas needed to see for himself. Many miracles in the Bible began with a simple act of kindness.
What does that mean for us? Well, we can’t perform miracles. We won’t be able to heal the sick – but we can visit and pray with them. We won’t be able to feed 5000 hungry people – but we can offer a bag of snacks to the homeless man on the corner. We can’t give the frustrated clerk at the grocery store a new job – but we can be patient and wish him a blessed day. Kindness isn’t a talent that only some of us have. Anyone can be kind. It simply involves choosing to notice the people around us and doing what we can to alleviate their suffering.
Kindness is a humble virtue. It won’t earn you any worldly rewards. You may not see any results. However, on the day of judgement, you will hear:
“Well done, good and faithful servant.” And that will be enough.
For more posts about kindness see: