Last week, we talked about patience. You may be starting to notice a theme with these marks of a true Christian: none of them are things that we normally do or are popular to do. Kindness, while generally desired in how others treat you, is rarely pushed as a key character trait to pursue yourself. Obviously, we all want people to be kind to us. We want our teachers to be kind, our parents to be kind, our bosses to be kind, and when you go to get your driver’s license, you will want to but will not experience anyone kind! When I went to get my driver’s license, I tell you what, I have never met nastier people in my life! I couldn’t believe how unkind they were, even though I had every single document required, I was respectful, and I was friendly. I left thinking, “Whew, this place is tough, but I can’t imagine if English was not my first language or if I was going there for something stressful like a driver’s test.” See, we all want people to be kind to us, and that is not a bad thing to want to be treated kindly. However, we so often fail to see how we lack kindness toward others and how that should not be characteristic of those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus.
Ephesians 4:29-32 - 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
This first verse is tough. How many of you have said something today that did not build someone up? Yeah, same here. This verse is talking about more than just swearing or using bad words. It is getting at the heart of how we treat other people and what our words communicate. Paul says that believers who truly follow Jesus should not allow ANY corrupt talk out of their mouths or ANYTHING that does not build other people up and offer grace to them. So, your complaining about that teacher at school, not kind. My “venting” to a friend about a tough situation, not kind; and the list goes on. When we do not set a guard over our words and the things we communicate, we not only tear others down and hurt our testimony, but we also grieve (sadden) the Holy Spirit, God Himself! This is not how God wants to see His children acting, nor is it how we have been treated by Him.
The reason we are to be kind to one another (v. 32) and forgive others that wrong or offend us, is because of the gospel: what Jesus did for us. We are to be kind to others and forgive others based on the same standard by which we have been forgiven. Our metric for how kind we should be is to live up to the example of Jesus’ kindness toward others, even those who killed Him. That’s a lot of kindness.
Titus 3:1-5 - 1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit
So, what does this kindness look like practically in our lives? Paul, in his letter to Titus, gives us a good starting list. Being kind includes, but is not limited to, submitting to those in authority over us (government, parents, teachers, etc.), being ready to do good works, not speaking badly about others, avoiding fights and bickering, being gentle in our treatment of others (even when telling them the truth), and showing courtesy or respect toward all people (even if we disagree).
We can’t do anything on that list in any real lasting way if it were not for God. The motivation and enablement come from the “goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior” (v. 4). When we understand the gospel, that Jesus came and died for us and offers us forgiveness for our sins, we are prepped to show that same forgiveness and kindness toward others.
Now, if you haven’t accepted the forgiveness that surrendering your life to Jesus offers, you have no framework for real kindness. Yes, you may have people in your life that you would identify as kind, or you may have times where you have shown kindness toward others. However, none of us are kind all the time. We all have times where we look out for our own interests instead of others. We all have times where we have just had it or where we pop off at someone else. These times are a reminder that we cannot be perfect. We all need Jesus, because only He is truly kind and truly good. Only He can truly save us and truly help us to show this same kindness toward others.
Psalm 141:5 - Let a righteous man strike me -- it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me -- it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it.
Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.
One final note about kindness. As with love, so many people view kindness as never opposing someone else or disagreeing with someone. Many would say that to correct someone or to tell them they are wrong shows hate and not love and kindness. But, if I love my son, who is 9 months old, and he is going to put his finger in an electrical socket, is it kind to let him live his truth? Is it loving to support his decision to electrocute himself? Absolutely not! What is loving and kind is to scream at him, dive across the room to prevent him from seriously harming himself and swat his hand to let him know that there is serious danger in what he was about to do.
So, with kindness, it is not always about just being agreeable and going along with what others are doing. The person who wrote this psalm recognized that a righteous person (someone correcting out of the right motive and with truth) disciplining him was kindness. Not only that, but the psalmist views it as a luxury or a treat, “oil on my head.” He realizes that we all are going to need correction at times. This should not be viewed as evil or hateful, especially if it is done in love. We should view this as kindness toward us. We also, as we mature and grow in your walk with God, should not be afraid to lovingly, kindly correct others that we see living in sin or doing what is wrong. It is love and kindness that offers that correction, just as God offers to us.