Thursday, 24 October 2019

The Ministry of Kindness

Sadly, the world today is often a very unkind place.  Selfishness and hard-heartedness can be seen everywhere we look, and we don’t have to search very hard to find people going out of their way to hurt the feelings of others. 

Of course, there is nothing new about all this.  Human sinfulness has always meant that unkindness has been very common, both in words and actions. 

Today, however, it seems that the amount of unkindness, at least in words that are spoken, has reached an all-time high.  The reason for this is the existence of the internet.  It is now extremely easy to make unkind comments online about people that are widely read by others.  And this can often be done anonymously, meaning that someone who wants to be unkind needs no courage at all to do so.  The internet makes it clear that the world contains millions and millions of people who enjoy being unkind to others.

Kindness as fruit of the Spirit

Although we find ourselves surrounded by such a sea of unkindness, as Christians we need to be very different.  We should be the sort of people who not only avoid being unkind to others but who actually go out of our way to be kind.

In Galatians 5:13-26 the apostle Paul spends some time teaching the churches in Galatia about morally upright Christian living.  This passage includes his well-known description of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in v. 22: 
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

The items on this list are all very important moral qualities, and we should note carefully that kindness is one of them.  We must therefore not underestimate the value of kind words and actions in God’s sight.  To put it bluntly, God absolutely loves it when we choose to be kind to others, whether in word or deed.

Kindness need not be a burden

I think some Christians neglect the importance of kindness because they are afraid that if they repeatedly give to others in this way, they will lose out and it will become a burden.

This, however, is a mistake.

For a start, most kind words and acts take only a small amount of time and effort.  Usually, there is very little cost associated with kindness.

Secondly, even on those occasions when being kind is more costly, we must remember what the Lord Jesus says in Luke 6:38: 
“Give and it will be given to you.”

This is a key principle of life in this world.  Typically, when we give to others, God gives good things back to us in return. 

Thirdly, it is not just God who gives to those who are kind.  Kind people are almost inevitably liked and appreciated by others.  And they are the most likely to be the recipients of kind words and deeds themselves.

Determined to be kind

In a world, then, that is full of unkindness, Christians should be determined to be different.  When we see people acting selfishly and uncaringly, let us make a conscious decision not to follow suit.  And when we come across those who go out of their way to be unkind, let us be all the more eager to go out of our way to be kind. 

See also:

Christians Should Be Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak