Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
It seems that kindness is in short supply in our world. Often an act of kindness is just what people need and it doesn’t have to be a big deal. A kind person is loving, and giving out of the goodness of their heart.
Being helpful and kind doesn’t seem to have the appeal it once did. Instead, it can often be seen as a form of weakness and having a personality which exudes warmth and kindness can even be a turn-off.
Kindness emerges from someone who’s confident, compassionate and comfortable with themselves. A kind person is loving and giving out of the goodness of their heart. We like being around these people. But are we losing the willingness to be kind? It seems so. Why? Probably because we’re too busy and self-absorbed and less tolerant than we used to be—and that’s a shame.
Someone made up a list of whether or not you’re a kind person. You are kind if:
- You go the extra mile to help people
- You are forgiving
- You treat everyone the same
- You’re not scared of admitting you’re wrong
- You stand up to bullies
- You make sure everyone gets heard
- You are polite
- You listen to others
- You don’t do it for show
- You treat people less powerful than you with respect
- You are the change you want to see in the world
I think it’s quite a good and accurate list. Most of us would agree that Mother Teresa was a kind person. She once said, “I alone can’t change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples”. And that’s a good definition of kindness—love and compassion in action.
What Is Kindness?
So what is kindness? Kindness is a behaviour marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and a concern for others. Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. It is known as a virtue. A virtue is a standard, it is a discipline and a moral excellence. It is a strong word—not weak. Saint Basil wrote:
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A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.
We can all practise kindness. It does not cost any money but it may take some time and energy. It may require thoughtfulness, to smile, to visit, to comfort or to offer encouragement or show friendliness—it can be done every day in thousands of different ways.
We also need to be kind to ourselves. Especially the hurt and broken parts of ourselves. The unlovely parts of us. Kindness brings healing when we can accept our faults, our mistakes our hurts. When we are kind enough to recognise that we have all had hard times and we have all made bad choices.
Be kind to yourself by taking breaks, resting, recharging, doing things that you enjoy. Mark Twain once said: “Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” It is more than being nice and agreeable. It is a quality of one’s being, not just a matter of a person’s behaviour! This makes it a personal virtue and not just an action or a personal gift that is given to someone.
Kindness Can Save Lives
It’s not an exaggeration to say that an act of kindness can save a life. I read of the true story of a young man, named Mark, who was trying to negotiate his way home one day with his arms full of paraphernalia he had just taken from his high-school locker. The inevitable happened. He tripped. Suddenly his precious cargo was no longer in his arms but scattered on the sidewalk.
A Good Samaritan bystander, a student from the same high-school, stopped and helped his distraught neighbour. A small act of kindness, undramatic and unpretentious. A conversation ensued and, before very long, a friendship developed. When the time was ripe, Mark explained to his new friend that the reason he cleaned out his locker was because he did not want to leave a mess behind for someone else.
He had saved up enough of his mother’s sleeping pills to put himself to sleep permanently. He was going home to kill himself when an act of unexpected kindness gave his plans and his life a new direction. Yes—kindness, truly, can save lives.
By being kind we can make the world a happier place. The Bible says, “Love your neighbour as yourself”. Are you unkind to yourself? I don’t think so. When you are kind you put others above yourself—and that is a divine act of love. One writer said,
Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse. God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way. Look for God in others.
The New Testament, God’s Word says, “Be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ” (Ephesians 4:32). Paul said to the Christians in Rome, “Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honouring each other” (Romans 12:10).
It has been said, “Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.” Why not show the delivering power of kindness to someone today?