Kindness

A number of years ago, I found myself in North Carolina visiting a brother in Christ, originally from Georgia and his bride from Scotland. They received me with such grace and hospitality. They encouraged me with their kind words. They fed and watered me. They even served me shepherd’s pie for dinner! They gave me rest from my travels for the night.

Knowing my poverty at the time, and my need for a very early morning departure, they left me an envelope with money to suffice for the rest of my day’s journey home. How can I describe these Christians? They were extraordinarily kind. I saw God’s providence in my visit with them, and I gave Him thanks for being kind to them, so they might be kind to me.

Kindness (Gk. prestotes — “pray-sto-tays”) is one fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). This means it is one of the many attributes of God (Rom 2:4; 11:22). God, by His grace, extends kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7), and manifests His kindness through us, by the life of the Spirit. Kindness should mark us as Christians (2 Cor 6:6), as should all of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23).

Jesus said, “All men will know you are my disciples by your love for one another (Jn 13:35).” Love and kindness, or lovingkindness (Heb. hesed), go together (2 Pet 1:7). Like the rest of the attributes of God to manifest and mimic, we are growing in the grace of kindness because our natural sinful self is not kind.

Sheep can be notorious for being biters. Obviously, sheep do not have many dealings with other animals, so when one of them is known to be a biter, she is a biter of other sheep. Christians, like sheep, tend to flock together. We do this for camaraderie and protection, but we do bump into one another. The point of gravitation is our Good Shepherd (Jn 10).

We love our Lord Jesus Christ, and we love to be near Him. This naturally draws us together. The closer we are to Him, the closer we are to one another. The prophets encourage us: Yahweh requires us to love kindness (Mic 6:8), so, “Return to your God, observe kindness (Hos 12:6).” When you do, Paul writes, “Be kind to one another (Eph 4:32),” and again for pastors, “be kind to all (2 Tim 2:24).”

I have lived in small towns, small cities, suburbs of major cities, and in downtown Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. Kind people live in every place, along with the not so kind. Because we typically identify with people in the place we were reared, I suspect we find our own kind to be more kindly. This is because we share a kindred spirit (Gk. isopsukov), if not, a shared history. It takes an extra measure to welcome the stranger, and it is commendable to receive them well (3 Jn 1:5). Tabitha abounded with deeds of kindness, at Joppa (Acts 9:36). Paul acknowledged the extraordinary kindness of the people of Malta (Acts 28:2).

The kindness of God is a catalyst for peoples’ repentance (Rom 2:4), for God is kind to ungrateful and evil men (Lk 6:35). In fact, as it pertains to salvation, Paul recognized God’s kindness in His saving His people from their sins (Tit 3:4–5). Peter suggested that those who had tasted the kindness of God should grow in their salvation and kindness (1 Peter 2:2–3). In other words, God’s kindness begins in us, and it continues to be His good work. Your lovingkindness may encourage someone to ask about the hope within you.

God’s kindness warrants our gratitude. Naomi recognized God’s kindness to her through Boaz’s generosity, and she praised the Lord (Ruth 2:20). Ezra praised Yahweh for His kindness, in facilitating all of the good things for restoring Israel to the land and rebuilding the temple (Ezra 7:27). In contrast, Israel forgot Yahweh’s abundant kindness to them as they rebelled by the Red Sea (Ps 106:7). Paul wrote, “Give thanks in everything, “ and this certainly includes our right response to God for His kindness.

The kindness of God is balanced with the severity of God, which is another attribute of God (Rom 11:22). Those who fall away from God experience His severity, but those who continue in relationship with Him, know His continuing kindness. Joseph was the recipient of God’s kindness, while he was in the Egyptian jail (Gen 39:21). He was given charge over the other inmates, to whom he was kind, and he expected kindness in return (Gen 40:14). The ethos of a group is impacted for good when the one who rules over them is kind. Satan is not kind, which makes his slaves unkind. Thus, kindness is countercultural, and it highlights God’s people as peculiar. Got kindness?

Kindness can be sought. Jacob requested kindness from Joseph (Gen 47:29), by having him promise to bury him back in the Promised Land. Later, Israel sought kindness from the nations it needed to pass through, in order to enter the Promised Land. The Kenites showed them kindness, and King Saul had not forgotten this gesture, even after three hundred years of elapsed history (1 Sam 15:6). You can seek kindness and be sure to remember those who granted it to you.

Kindness is for the showing. Kindness in a person makes her desirable (Prv 19:22). Esther was shown love, favor, and kindness by the king (Esther 2:17). Friends show kindness to the one in despair (Job 6:14). The wise woman teaches kindness to others (Prv 31:26). If kindness is sown, kindness will be reaped (Hos 10:12). Kindness should be practiced (Zech 7:9). Christ was kind to sinners and the sick, who came to Him. You can show you are His follower by doing as He did.

Kindness can be feigned. Abraham and Sarah pretended to be kind to one another, as a brother and sister born into a congenial family would be kind (Acts 20:13). If fear produces a fake kindness, what is the quality of kindness when twined with love and truth? Wisdom couples truth and kindness (Prv 3:3), and warns of their separation or neglect. Those who keep truth and kindness together are working for good (Prv 14:22). The smiting reproof of the righteous, in telling his brother the truth, is a kindness (Ps 141:5). Speak the truth with kindness.

Withholding kindness, to one who deserves it, is a disgrace. Israel did not show kindness toward the house of Gideon, having forgot all he had done for them (Jdg 8:35). Abner had shown great kindness to the house of Saul, and he was maligned and mistreated (2 Sam 3:8), which eventually caused him to defect to his enemy, David, who received him with kindness and respect. David wished to show kindness to the Ammonite king, Hanun, but David’s servants were grievously humiliated (2 Sam 10:2–3). Joash, the king, had forgotten the kindness of Jehoida, and he killed his son (2 Chron 24:22). God judges the land where kindness is void (Hos 4:1). You may not think someone deserves kindness. Be kind to them anyway and see what comes of it.

Kindness can be repaid. We noted the reciprocal kindness shown to the Kenites by Saul. Abimelech had shown genuine kindness to Abraham (Gen 21:23), and he expected it in return. David ordered Solomon to be kind to the sons of Barzillai, the Gileadite, who showed him kind hospitality, across Jordan, during Absalom’s coup d’etat (1 Kgs 2:7). If someone has been kind to you, go out of your way to return that kindness with even greater kindness.

Paul encouraged the Colossians to “put on a heart of kindness” (Col 3:12).” Peter desired the same in the Christians to whom he wrote (1 Pet 3:8). Paul especially encouraged this kindheartedness for women of God (Tit 2:5). Clearly, Ruth had done this toward Boaz, in submitting herself in marriage to the much older man (Ruth 3:10), who initiated kindness toward Naomi and Ruth. David commended the men of Jabesh-Gilead for showing kindness to the house of Saul, in burying the body of the dead king (2 Sam 2:5). David also sought to be kind to the house of Saul after it was ruined, and Jonathan’s crippled son, Mephibosheth, was the beneficiary (2 Sam 9:1, 3, 7). What’s in your heart?

So we have considered kindness. We found it sourced in God, who graciously extends it in abundance to friends and enemies alike. Kindness has a way of self-multiplying once it has been initiated. It can be shown, sought, repaid, expected, and faked, which is why it should always be done in love and truth. Woe to the ungrateful who are shown kindness and who reject it.

In conclusion, as you grow in the grace of kindness, while it is being manifested in you by God, pray for kindness to abound for you. Receiving kindness is like an overflowing cup of goodness that naturally spills into the cup of others. They will think very kindly of you and know from your kind words where this eternal fountain of kindness is found. Kindness: it flows as a river of life, from a kind heart, filled with a kindred Spirit. This is the best kind.

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

April 7, 2021

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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher