“36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. 38 Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6: 36-38, NKJV, Pp. 1582).
The question I ask myself every day before I go to sleep at night, faithfully without fail is; “Have I been kind to those around me and to those I have dealt with today?” I don’t always like the answer. In self-reflection I learn so much about who I am as a human being. I see my flaws more clearly, and in that process I see God’s loving hand molding me and shaping me like clay. In this walk with God I ask him questions and truthfully I don’t always get an answer when I would like to have it, but he always answers me when I least expect it. His kindness and His mercy is the virtue I try very hard to live up to with every breath I breathe.
So what is kindness as a virtue? It is charity for the sake of charity; it is doing for others because it is the right thing to do not because of some monetary reward. It is the showing of compassion for the sake of compassion, not because there is some emotional need being filled in return. It is being a friend to those who you otherwise would not be a friend to or even talk to, for the sake of friendship. It is showing empathy to those who are going through hard times, for the sake of showing them that you truly care, not because you will be given glory for it. Kindness is such a powerful word, it can be such a powerful act, and it invokes such powerful emotions when we express it with all our heart and soul.
“16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3: 16-18, NKJV, Pp. 1923).
Honesty is tied to integrity, which builds trust; this is such a powerful combination as with these values in place and an everyday part of your life kindness flows. It is very much like a snowball, once it starts rolling it automatically collects more snow and the bigger it gets. Like a snowball your kindness attracts the attention and respect of people who you have been kind to and the kinder you are the more they will want to be near you. Our Lord and Savior was very much like this, for Jesus so wanted everyone to hear his message and to act upon it. His acts here on Earth reek of kindness, especially to those who were defenseless. He kept company with the lowliest of people, in the unlikeliest of groups, and healed those who were in and of themselves the most controversial and dysfunctional characters of their day. Jesus found time to listen, to love, to feed, to celebrate everyone and every moment in his life. He took great pleasure in being kind and has never asked for anything in return. It is this thought that burrows deep into my heart and brings tears to my eyes, because He gave his life for every man, women and child, and asks nothing in return for this price of man’s sins. How kind and merciful is this act of Jesus? How can we possibly fully measure his kindness to us?
I am humbled every time I ponder these two very powerful questions. I am also lead to the idea of how much more kind should I be with all those who I deal with daily. I will admit that members of our family and people who we love the most in personal relationships are the hardest to show kindness to all the time. This holds true for the single reason that kindness to our loved ones should be without prejudice or resentment. It is easier to be kind to a stranger who we do not know the back story too. But when we know some or even the entire story we have a tendency to become judgmental, jealous, filled with hypocrisy, selfish, and to some extent we over power, (always with the best intentions of course), the decisions of those we love the most. Somewhere in this mix we fall to Satan’s temptation of pardon less, possessive love, which is not love, but a form of control. We stop being a friend, a lover, a good parent, a good son or daughter, and a good person, turning into instead a scared, insecure, pathetic version of ourselves. It is only through self-reflection do we see these qualities clearly. It can be painful to see, and we often spend a great amount of life ignoring it, justifying our actions and never taking the blame for our lack in moral conduct. This in truth is the act Satan knows will help him to separate you from God in this eternal war between good and evil.
“22 What a man desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar” (Proverbs 19:22, NJKV, Pp.986).
Therefore, it is important to remember James, the brother of Jesus who described kindness as being pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. As it is equally important to remember how God looks at us from the judgment set, for the more you give the more you will receive.
One of my favorite lines found in proverbs 19 would have to be Proverbs 19: 20, because it is the hardest to do. It is the act of kindness when a friend or loved one takes the time to share wisdom with you, and in our world of today this activity is almost a lost art. Moreover, when we do share in this way it is often times received as being anything but kind.
“20 Listen to advise and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise” (Proverbs 19:20, NJKV, Pp.986).
How many times have I given advice and it been ignored? Likewise, in reverse if we ask this question we must also ask, how many times have we received advise and ignore it? Within the dismissal of advice, what was lost had we attempted it? Personally, I know most of what I ask of my family will never be heard, because no one listens, because they know me, they know my back story, my flaws, my weakness, and thus the perfect advice is ignored. This was the same problem Jesus ran into when preaching to the people of his hometown for, “4 Jesus said to them, “Only in the hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor” (Mark 6: 4, NKJV, Pg. 1536).
Satan uses these biases against us so that we will become frustrated and fight with those we love. I know in the past I have fallen to this greatest of deceptions and instead of attacking the problem with love and coming from a place which is pure of heart I retaliate with cruelty. We abandon kindness in those moments, just like we abandon God when we are mad at him and blame him for our own short comings. I bring this up to make this point; though we are imperfect and react badly at times, the virtue of true kindness is absolutely unselfish love; it is motivated by a pure heart, without motives driving the action being shown or expressed. It is voluntary given without bias or spite. It is the purposeful, everyday practice which inspires others to be kind and merciful. As a virtue, kindness is the smiles warn upon our face, that cheerful demeanor when asked a question, or being greeted. Kindness can be as is simple as the way we say “hello” when we really want to say “what!”, or it can be as simple as the act of listening without offering advice.
For in Matthew we find the true test of kindness,
“21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21, NKJV, Pg. 1478).
At the end of the day before I go to sleep I also ask myself these questions, “Did I give any amount of satisfaction to those I dealt with today? More importantly am I satisfied with myself in regard to the day’s activities? Did I express loyalty to those I love? Did I show compassion and integrity in all that I did today?” As I stated earlier, I don’t always like the answer I receive to these questions, and it always reminds me that I need God in my life; I need his example of kindness and of love. I need to hand my sins over, and I need to allow Him to help me to perfect the right amount or measure of kindness that He would require of me each and every day.
Challenge question: If our kindness is measured in heaven, why do we struggle so with being kind to others?
If you have been moved by this blog I humbly invite you to leave a message telling me your thoughts and how this reflection has touched you. May peace and love be with you all the days of your life. May God keep you and bless you.