By now, if you’re anything like me, you are perhaps a bit tired of hearing the words “Corona”, Virus”, “quarantine”, “lockdown”, “social distancing”, etc.! Yet, I still feel we need to engage with one another over this new reality. So today’s post will be a bit of a hybrid. I will continue my series on walking in the fruit of the Spirit but explore a bit, how today’s fruit – that of “kindness“, relates to the Covid-19 outbreak. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize how much we need kindness in today’s world where isolation, fear, and hoarding are daily topics of interest. Before we go there, while kindness is probably understood by most of us, here is how I will be using the idea in today’s blog: Kindness is “more than a random act of consideration. It is a constant readiness to help, the extension of God’s grace to the people around us through practical actions of caring.” (Galatians: Philip Graham Ryken, p.233). In these days of “social distancing”, I find John Stott’s take on kindness to be timely: He said, “patience, kindness, goodness. These are social virtues, manward rather than Godward in direction . . .’Kindness’ is a question of disposition. . .” Wow! So much here to consider. First, how does one practice the social virtue of kindness during this time of social isolation? It’s not a hard question to answer really. First, be kind to your family members, those under your roof. These are the folks we most often take for granted, so it’s often easier, if we are not intentional, to not treat one another with kindness. Taking Ryken’s thoughts, are we in a constant readiness to help our family members? Do we, as Stott suggested, have a disposition of thinking about the needs of others? Kindness, like all the other fruit of the Spirit, is something we first receive, before we are able to let it flow out of us. God shows us His kindness to us in Jesus. His kindness is what leads us to repentance (Rom.2:4), so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph.2:7). Before we knew His kindness, we were “slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared . . .” (Titus 2:3-4), we are now His kids, people with His same disposition, enjoying a constant readiness to help . . . Let me pause here and ask a few questions: Are you aware there are people around you who need our kindness, need our help? We have been told to check up on our neighbors, especially the elderly. Have you? If not, why not? Are we assuming someone else will show them the kindness they need? What incredible opportunities we have to show kindness to our neighbors. Now, perhaps more than at any time in our brief lives, we have the opportunities to show the love and kindness of Jesus to our neighbors. Let’s talk a bit though, of this idea of kindness as a disposition. I love this! Let me suggest a few things here:
– Kindness cannot be willed. Yes, we are to surrender our wills to God, asking Him to give us the disposition of kindness. What I’m getting at here, is, kindness, as a fruit of the Spirit, is something our Lord generates in and through us. Similarly, we are told elsewhere, that we have the “mind of Christ” (I Cor. 2:16), and, that “those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” (Rom. 8:5ff). So, in short, to be kind, to live with a disposition that is constantly ready to help, really, is an invitation to walk with Jesus, to walk in His kindness. Choosing kindness is a delightful way of reminding ourselves of the kindness we have received and are receiving daily from Jesus Himself.
– Kindness, like the other fruit, is an invitation to get out of yourself, to be less self-focused, self-occupied, etc. Perhaps one of the best ways to combat anxiety about whether or not your needs (whatever the needs are) are met, is to consciously look to meet the needs of others. First, by doing so, you again are inviting Jesus to work in and through you as you respond to His kindness, and second, what you sow, you will most often reap. Now, our motivation for showing kindness is not that others will be kind to us. Not at all. But, when we are kind to others, we will more likely receive the kindness we need when our need arises.
Finally, friends of CrossWay and all followers of Jesus, who read this blog, maybe you have heard of the phrase “random acts of kindness”. We’ve tried to encourage such actions here at our fellowship, but even more than kindness as a “random act of consideration” (See Ryken’s thoughts above), just think of the power we would experience from the Holy Spirit, if we were more “intentional” rather than “random” in our walk/acts of kindness. I think the world would be changed. At least, I know, we would be changed. May our kind God give us such a disposition.