So many of our favorite superheroes in American pop culture have catch phrases we all know instinctively…Like whenever someone thanks Spiderman for his works of heroics, he says, “I’m just your friendly neighborhood Spiderman!” And every time the Thing from the Fantastic Four gets ready to fight, he says, “It’s clobberin’ time!” Well, I’m pretty sure my wife is a superhero too, but her catchphrase is a lot gentler:
This is one of my beloved bride’s most favorite lines. She says it all the time. (And let me tell you, your humble author hears it as well). And she’s absolutely correct! It’s a common reminder we give our children, too, as we are helping to shape and nurture them.
Kindness may seem like such a simple thing, or maybe like a no-brainer, right? Maybe when you think of being kind to others, you think of biting your tongue when you’re about to say something mean. Or maybe you think of it as doing simple things like holding a door for someone, opening your home to someone, or sharing what you have with those in need. And kindness can be all of those things…But it’s also something even more powerful than that.
True kindness means having a posture of generosity towards others, whether they deserve it or not. Kindness is a truly supernatural phenomenon. Why? Because it takes our natural tendency to be selfish and turns it on its head. Kindness focuses our energy on someone else’s good rather than on ourselves. And kindness that is truly selfless like that is not an ability we have just inherently within ourselves. We can’t just muster up the strength to be selfless – it has to come from somewhere else.
This sort of kindness probably sounds familiar, right? It sounds a lot like love, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
The second phrase in the Apostle Paul’s explanation of love is, “Love suffers long and is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). What’s the source of that kindness? When Jesus dwells in us, it’s something he himself pours out in our hearts and manifests in our lives. God Himself is kind, even to His enemies. We know this because Romans 2:4 tells us that the kindness of God is meant to bring people to repentance. Who needs to repent? People who haven’t. God is kind to those people, not just the ones who seem to have it all together.
Then He helps us show that same kindness—not by giving us a list of rules to follow, but by giving us His Holy Spirit. It turns out that when you spend time hanging out with the Holy Spirit of the Living God, the natural result is acting more like Him, which includes being more loving and kind (Galatians 5:22).
And what’s the outcome of kindness? We bring life to everyone around us. Our lives and words have an impact, either for life or for death. When you are kind to someone else, you’re recognizing that that person is God’s image-bearer. You build them up, empowering them for life.
Just think about how many times a day we have the opportunity to be kind.
How about as parents? We have so many chances to show kindness and consideration to our kids. We could take the lazy route by ignoring or dismissing them. But when we see their shoulders slump as they retreat back into themselves, we know we’ve missed an opportunity to bring that child life. They grow exponentially when we invest in them with kindness!
The same thing happens with adults. We could go through the day focused on ourselves and maybe never fully know the impact of our selfishness on those around us. In our “grown-up-ness,” we don’t often admit when someone has sucked the wind from our sails. We don’t show the same body language that kids do. Instead, the process happens internally—until the negativity boils over onto the nearest bystanders!
But kindness changes the atmosphere. It brings the love, grace and generosity of God into the room. Kindness matters because people matter to God. That is the gospel. God values people so highly that Jesus would live and die for their restoration. People are infinitely valuable to God.
…And they should be for us as well. Kindness matters because true love is kind. So let’s spend our lives going out of our way to be kind. Let’s love people through kindness. Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We all appreciate kindness, so let’s be those kind of people in the world, depending on the Spirit of Jesus within us to pour out his own kindness in our hearts.
“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21)