Developing Christian Kindness
We have been working our way through the virtues of the Fruit of the Spirit. Our focal verse for this series is from the book of Galatians where it says:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Gal 5:22-23 (NASB)
Today we are going to look at kindness. Colossians 3:12-13 says:
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Col 3:12-13 (NASB)
Notice the words “put on”. That is what the Greek word literally means – “put on”. What Paul is saying here is that when we wake up in the morning we ought to get dressed spiritually and emotionally as well as physically. When we wake up in the morning and decide what to wear we should ask ourselves, “What kind of attitude am I going to put on today?” Paul says kindness is a choice. It is something we can choose to “put on” every day.
Kindness is “love in action” – a practical expression of love. It is visible and active – not just emotional.
But why should we be kind? After all – kindness is kind of risky. If we are nice to someone they might think, “Why is this person being so nice? What’s in it for him?” On the other hand if we are kind to people they might try to take advantage of us. So kindness is kind of risky.
Despite the risks we are to be kind for two reasons. First, we are to be kind because God is kind to us. Romans 2:4 says:
“Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Rom 2:4 (NASB)
We should not think lightly of God’s kindness to us. He has shown us kindness – tolerance – patience in order that we may seek Him and come to Him. Therefore – we should be kind because God is kind to us.
The other reason we should be kind is that we want people to be kind to us. We want to be treated right. Jesus said: “
“In everything treat people the same way you want them to treat you…” Mat 7:12 (NASB)
“Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12, CSB)
Another way of saying it is: “Do for others what you would want them to do for you.” (ERV)
If you are rude to other people they are going to be rude to you. But if you are kind, most people will want to respond the same way.
What does it mean to be a kind person, and how can we become kinder? Let me suggest five characteristics of a kind person.
This is the fifth sermon in this series on the fruit of the Spirit. It deals with Kindness. 1. Be SENSITIVE 2. Be SUPPORTIVE 3. Be SYMPATHETIC 4. Be STRAIGHTFORWARD 5. Be SPONTANEOUS
FIVE WAYS TO BE KIND TO PEOPLE1
1. Be SENSITIVE
First, kind people are sensitive to others. They are aware of the needs of those around them. So become aware of the needs of those around you. Tune in to them. Kindness always starts with sensitivity. Philippians 2:3-4 says:
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 (NASB)
Kindness always starts with noticing what is going on in other people’s lives.
Folks here is a fact: Everyone you meet this week needs kindness.
The people you meet on the street need kindness – the person sitting next to you in the pew needs kindness. Everyone needs kindness. Kindness starts with sensitivity.
We find an example of sensitivity and kindness in the life of King David as recorded in 2 Samuel 9. David was crowned king of Israel and had led the Israelites in a series of military victories. The former King Saul had died. Saul and David had not been the best of friends – in fact Saul had tried to kill David on several occasions. Yet Jonathan – Saul’s son and David liked each other dearly. They were very good friends.
David eventually became king. Saul had died and Jonathan had died. Then David made an unusual request. He asked whether there was anyone left in Saul’s family to whom he could be kind. They found Saul’s grandson – Jonathan’s son – Mephibosheth was still alive. Mephibosheth however was crippled in both feet because of an accident when he was five years old.
So David sent for Mephibosheth. He probably thought, I am going to be killed because I am Saul’s grandson. But here is what happens:
David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly.” 2 Sam. 9:7 (NASB)
Mephibosheth’s response is interesting:
“What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”(v. 8)
He apparently had a poor self image. He was part of the loosing family. He had become a cripple. I’m sure he was discouraged and down – but David actively looked for Saul’s family members in order to be kind to them. Be sensitive to those who are hurting.
2. Be SUPPORTIVE
A second characteristic exhibited by kind people is supportiveness. This means talking about building people up rather than tearing them down. Watch what you say to people. Be supportive in your speech. Speak kindly. Proverbs 15:1 says:
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 (NASB)
Nobody likes to be put down. Children say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Baloney! Names do hurt! Labels hurt! In fact, the Bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. You can destroy others with what you say to them. So build people up with your words. Give everyone you meet an emotional lift. Encourage them. Be supportive.
Proverbs 3:3 says: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3 (NASB)
Are you the kind of person? It should be our manner at all times.
How supportive are you in speaking to others? Do you encourage or discourage with your words? Do you lift up or tear down? Let us be kind all the time.
Joseph is a good example of a man who was kind. Everything seemed to go wrong in Joseph’s life. His brothers treated him like dirt. In fact, they put him in a pit and sold him into slavery. Everything seemed to go wrong during the first thirty years of his life: he was falsely accused of adultery, he was put into prison, he was the victim of broken promises. But later the tables were turned, and Joseph became second in command in all of Egypt. His brothers come to him on bended knee, and at that time Joseph had the opportunity to retaliate and get even. But the Bible says that Joseph reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Kind works can build a bridge. Harsh words can tear it down. A Christian ought to speak kindly even when given the opportunity to retaliate.
3. Be SYMPATHETIC
A third characteristic of a kind person is the ability to be sympathetic. If you want to be kind – learn to be sympathetic.
People appreciate it when you sympathize with them, when you grieve with them and hurt with them. Many times when someone is experiencing a crisis, other people say, “We feel so awkward. We just don’t know what to say at times like this.” Actually, you don’t have to say anything. Just being there is an expression of kindness.
Sometimes a touch on the shoulder, a tear, a pat on the back, or a grasp of the hand is all a hurting person needs. That is kindness. Romans 12:15 says:
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Rom 12:15 (NASB)
Did you know that the shortest verse in the Bible is only two words? Those two words are:
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 (NASB)
The situation is that Jesus went to a friend’s house and there he was confronted with the fact that his friend was dead. His response was simple. His response was natural. His response was human emotion. “Jesus wept.”
In some ways this puzzles me. I stand in wonder when I read that verse. For I must ask the question: “Why is the King of kings and the Lord of lords breaking down and crying at the moment”? He who holds the power of life in His hands still wept, He still cried, at the situation of death. Yet, though I ponder that question in my mind, the scripture still speaks plain; “Jesus wept.” Perhaps he was teaching us:
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Rom 12:15 (NASB)
He was being sympathetic. He was showing kindness. If you want to know what kindness id like – just look at Jesus. No matter how many Bible verses you have memorized or how often you go to church – if you are not kind – you are not like Jesus. So learn to be a kind person by being sensitive, supportive, and sympathetic.
4. Be STRAIGHTFORWARD
A kind person is also straightforward. Sometimes kindness means being candid. Sometime it means laying it on the line – telling the truth – leveling with people. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is to be frank with a friend and tell that person exactly where he or she is wrong. Proverbs 27:6 says:
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6 (NASB)
The Contemporary English Version says it this way:
“You can trust a friend who corrects you, but kisses from an enemy are nothing but lies.” Proverbs 27:6 (CEV)
A real friend will level with you and say such things as, “You’re blowing it” or “You need to get in shape” or “You’re making the biggest mistake of your life.”
Suppose a doctor examines you, finds something seriously wrong, and then says either “You must have surgery” or “Relax and don’t worry about it.” Which is the kinder statement? If you need surgery – the kind thing is for the doctor to tell you that you need it. Sometimes kindness means being straightforward.
In Galatians chapter two we find an interesting story. Peter was visiting the church at Antioch which was made up largely of Gentile Christians. He was enjoying their fellowship and having a nice time with them. But one day some Jewish Christians came down from Jerusalem to Antioch and Peter pulled away from the Gentile Christians.
When Paul saw this he said to Peter, “Peter, you are being a hypocrite. What you are doing is wrong. You need to treat all Christians the same – whether they come from Jewish background or Gentile background – it makes no difference.”
Remember Paul wrote: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:28 (NASB)
Paul cared for Peter and he also knew that Peter had crossed the line – so he confronted him face to face. He was straightforward with Peter. We should be straightforward too.
5. Be SPONTANEOUS
Finally, if you want to be kind – learn to be spontaneous. Do not wait to show kindness. Do it while you have the opportunity. Do it now. Be spontaneous.
Galatians 6:10 says: “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Gal 6:10 (NASB)
Note the phrase “while we have opportunity.” When should we be kind? Whenever we have the opportunity.
On some occasion you probably have thought, “That person was really nice to me. I ought to write him a little thank-you note.” Or maybe you have thought, “I need to make that phone call or I need to send a little gift or I want to take something over to the neighbors.” Then you may have delayed and you kept delaying until you were so embarrassed that you didn’t do it at all. I suppose we all have had similar experiences. Yet, when it comes to kindness – good intentions don’t count. The opportunity may not last until you “get around to it.” Scripture says that when you have the opportunity to be kind – you need to do it.
When you get the slightest inclination to call someone – do it.
The classic example of spontaneous kindness in Scripture is the story of the Good Samaritan. You know the story – a man was beaten by robbers and left naked and half dead on the side of the road. A priest came along, looked at him, and said, “Oh, I don’t want to be near that guy. I would be defiled.” Another religious leader came along later and walked right on past. But then a Samaritan came by – a person considered by the Jews to be of an inferior race. The Samaritan bound up the man’s wounds – took him to the nearest inn – reached in his pocket and paid for the man to stay there. Then he told the inn keeper, “Take care of him and charge it to my account. I’ll stop by on my way back and pay for it.”
Kindness – costs.
But when the Samaritan saw the need – he didn’t think twice. He dropped everything without hesitation. He was spontaneous.
The priest probably had plenty of excuses for not helping the man. The other religious man probably did too. But here is the point: Jesus does care about our excuses – he cares if we are care.
There are all kinds of people around us who are hurting. They are hurting physically – emotionally – spiritually. The questions I must ask myself are, “What is my excuse for not helping them? And “Why am I not a kind person?”
According to the Associated Press, Chuck Wall, a human relations instructor at Bakersfield College in California, was watching the news one day when a cliché from a broadcaster stuck in his mind: “Another random act of senseless violence.”
Wall got an idea. He gave an unusual assignment to his students. They were to do something out of the ordinary to help someone and then write an essay about it. Then Wall dreamed up a bumper sticker that said, “Today, I will commit one random act of senseless kindness … Will You?” The students sold the bumper stickers, which a bank and union paid to have printed, for one dollar each, and the profits went to a county Braille center.
For his random act of kindness one student paid his mother’s utility bills.
Another student bought thirty blankets from the Salvation Army and took them to homeless people gathered under a bridge.
The idea took hold. The bumper sticker was slapped on all 113 county patrol cars. It was trumpeted from pulpits, in schools, and in professional associations.
After seeing the success of the idea, Chuck Wall commented, “I had no idea it would erupt like it has. I had no idea our community was in such need of something positive.”
In this negative and dark world, we each can do acts of kindness to bring some light.2
BE KIND TO SOMEONE THIS WEEK
You know it is one thing to hear a sermon about becoming a kind person – but it is another thing to become one.
Our world is filled with people who need kindness.
One of the fruits of Spirit is kindness – won’t you be kind to those who are around you?
1 Tom Shepherd, “Showing Kindness,” Galatians 5:22-23, 5 July 2016, Internet, https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/showing-kindness-tom-shepard-sermon-on-kindness-202844, accessed on 12 July 2019.
2 Craig Brian Larson, 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 283–284.