Sometimes people are hesitant to show an act of kindness to someone else, lest the person misread it or think it strange.
For example, young adults are often reluctant to perform kind gestures of word or action to a person of the opposite sex, lest the opposite sex think it is a show of romantic interest or that it is a “come-on.”
A lot of what I say this morning will come from St. Paul’s message (epistle or letter) to the Ephesians.
Take a look at what, according to Scripture, accompanies true kindness: Ephesians 4:31-32 reads “31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”
How important is kindness in this world we live in?
In a 2003 study of 37 cultures around the world, 16,000 subjects were asked about their most desired traits in a mate. For both sexes, the first preference was kindness!
Since we live in a society of pessimists, scoffers, and sceptics, we do not always recognize or acknowledge kind words or actions on our behalf. Here is a fictitious, light-hearted example:
A man worked in a post office, and his job was to process all mail that had illegible addresses. One day, a letter came to his desk, addressed in a shaky handwriting to God. He thought, “I had better open this one and see what it is all about.” So he opened it, and it read:
I am an 83-year-old widow living on a very small pension. Yesterday, someone stole my purse. It had a hundred dollars in it, which was all the money I had until my next pension check. I have invited two of my best friends over for dinner this weekend; and without that money, I have nothing to buy food with and I have no family to turn to, and you are my only hope. Can you please help me?
The postal worker was touched and went around showing the letter to all his co-workers. Their hearts were wrenched, and each of them dug into his wallet and came up with a few dollars to contribute. By the time he made the rounds, he had collected ninety-six dollars, which they put into an envelope and sent over to her. The rest of the day, all the workers felt all warm and fuzzy, thinking of the kind thing that they had done. It was indeed a kind gesture and a kind action.
The weekend came and went, and a few days later came another letter from the old lady to God. All the workers gathered around while the letter was opened. It read:
How can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me? Because of your kindness and generosity, I was able to fix a lovely dinner for my friends. We had a very nice day, and I told my friends of your wonderful gift. By the way, there were four dollars missing. No doubt, it was those thieving scoundrels at the post office.
Although it is a fictitious story, it illustrates that a kind act toward another person produces good results, but that does not guarantee that it will not be misread.
When we think of doing a kind gesture for someone, we should not be thinking about the results for us or whether we will get credit or not, but just do it as a kind, from-the-heart gesture… but do understand, the rewards of your kindness will be great!
People want to be treated kindly but have a harder time being kind themselves. A large-scale study of school bullies was recently conducted to learn why they bully other kids. The conclusion? Most do it because they enjoy doing it.
This illustrates how cruel, mean and sadistic raw human nature is. Kindness must be learned, and many children are not being taught it. Teach your children!
Some people think kindness is weak—not something for “go-getters” to be bothered with. Big mistake! If we want God, who has ultimate control of how things go in the universe, to be kind to us, we had better be kind to others. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” – Matthew 5:7.
People have many excuses: “I’m too busy.” “The person deserves his suffering.” “God is probably punishing him” (like Job’s friends assumed wrongly in the book of Job). But God doesn’t accept excuses for failing to show kindness.
Lack of kindness is epidemic. The apostle Paul accurately foretold a cold and hard-hearted world in 2 Timothy 3:1-3 – This know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,). As a result, people are starved for the milk of human kindness!
What’s even harder?
If you and I are kind to hundreds of nice people, doesn’t that prove we are kind people? Perhaps yes, according to normal standards. But God’s standard requires being kind to all —even “evil” people.
Now if we do a good deed for someone and there is no “thank you,” don’t we feel we should “give him what he deserves” and wash our hands of him?
Of course. But our reacting in this “natural” way is not sufficient if we want to be “sons and daughters of the Most High.” We must ask, “What would Jesus do?” and then do likewise.
Conversely… what about our arguments… being truthful?
What are the results of being unkind and speaking with harsh words, lies and thoughtlessness? What happens when we simply speak the truth and say our minds? We argue…
Ephesians 4:25-27 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the Sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.
Paul gives very sound advice. The longer we delay patching up an argument, the less likely we are to ever settle it. If there is trouble between us and anyone else, if there is trouble in the church, the only way to deal with it is at once. If we let it fester, it will only get worse. The longer it is left to thrive, the more bitter it will grow. In most cases, of course, there are exceptions.
Think about all the arguments you’ve had throughout the course of your life and, when looking back, how totally ridiculous the reasons behind them were. Were you being selfish, greedy or in just a bad mood? I think perhaps so.
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
Once we have put these malicious traits behind us, or at least have them under control, Paul says that we will display kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Thus, we see that there is a prerequisite to having kindness, and that is ridding ourselves of these malicious traits.
Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
What about your expressions?
Do we not judge one another based on appearances? This is a bad practice as you can never see in another person’s heart the troubles they may be dealing with.
Just this morning, at 4:15 AM, I was walking my faithful dog Mitzi. We spotted two black men who appeared to be “looming” in the lot across the street from our parking garage.
Me, I’m too brave, decided to approach them and learn of their intentions. As we neared them, all fears aside, they grabbed one another’s hand and walked their little snow-colored poodle back to their building. They were simply walking their dog.
I saw a woman on the beach today. She was scowling, as if she were mad or angry about something. I thought to myself “what an ugly person.” Then she smiled at me and said good morning… boy, was I wrong! What a beautiful woman she turned out to be.
Be kind to one another, be kind to yourself, be kind to the “undeserving” and teach your children about kindness… as this is God’s way and we are His children so we must act as our Father would act.
Go with Kindness… Go with God!