"Safe?" spurted Mr Beaver, "Aslan, safe? No, he's not 'safe', but he is 'good'!" Lucy could have asked a supplementary question: "Is he kind?" To which Mr Beaver could have responded without hesitation- "Yes. Aslan is the kindest person in the world." Can you be 'kind' without being 'safe' or 'nice'? Absolutely! In fact, sometimes you have to not be nice in order to be kind! Arguably one of the stand-out hallmarks of the Christian is that they are kind. It is an essential fruit of the Spirit, one of the main attributes of the God we worship and one of the distinctives of Christianity under pressure compared to other religious systems. But kindness can be provocative.
1. KINDNESS PROVOKES WONDER
Before our souls were regenerated and transformed, we snapped back at those who irritated us. If someone cut us off in traffic we would have yelled abuse at them. But then the Spirit of Christ came into our soul and we became kind. Rather than snap, we bless. Rather than lash, we love. Jesus has gripped out hearts with kindness. When someone doesn't give us the kind of customer service we want, we don't get ugly, we kindly ask- "Are you having a bad day?"
When we respond in kindness we catch most people off guard- they don't know how to react to unfair kindness. Put some coins randomly in somoene's expired parking meter. Go through through the McDonald's Drive-Through and pay for the next car's order. Get involved in a volunteer organisation. It causes them to wonder why you are kind. Show someone kindness and they'll wonder why.
¶ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
1Cor. 13:4And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
2. KINDNESS BUILDS BRIDGES
It's called the Law of Roses. Do something kind for someone and you build a bridge to their heart. When a young man buys and gives a young lady a bunch of roses, he builds a bridge to her heart (the Law is also known as The Law of Roses & Chocolates). Successful businesses know that if they give away a generous sample of their product they will likely build a bridge to a potential customer. Growing churches have also found that when they encourage their people to do acts of kindness for their neighbours, they often see these people come to Christ.
Mow your neighbour's lawn. Bake a cake and take it over to your neighbour. Write a Christmas card to your member of Parliament and letting them know that you are praying for them. Offer to take the next door neighbour's children to Kids' Club or Sunday Kids Church. Kindness provokes curiousity about the God who inspired such kindness.
"...Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. They will be won over by watching your pure, godly behavior."
1Pet. 3:1b-2Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
3. KINDNESS INSPIRES
One of the main functions of the Church community is to inspire each other to acts of kindness. In Hebrews 10:24, the New Living Translation uses the expression, "outbursts of love and good deeds"-
Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.
A few years ago we had a young single Mum join our church. Her husband had left her with a couple of young children to look after. She drove a bomb for a car. A few of the men in our church at the time got together and bought her a better car. It's moments like these that I'm proud to be the pastor of our church!
Meeting together each Sunday gives us each an opportunity to show kindness to one another, and to provoke kindness in each other ("Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds." Heb. 10:24). Some people who come to our church have little to no contact with anyone else through the week. Meeting people at church on Sunday is nearly the only contact with others they have. So when we have our handshake/hug time in our worship service this is the only time for some people in which they are touched by someone else! Looking someone in the eye, asking them how are they in their soul, demonstrating to them that you have heard them, and giving them a hug, could be an inspirational act of kindness that ends up touching many lives.
In the classic story, Les Miserables, the main character (Jean Valjean) experiences overwhelming kindness from a pastor. His life is entirely redirected from crime to civil service. Having experienced unearned kindness, he dedicated his life to also showing kindness to undeserving others. This story is a powerful illustration of how kindness can change a life.
If you're struggling to act kindly to your husband, wife, children, friends, family or customers, ask God to help you to be kinder. If you get angry easily, then ask God for forgiveness and the grace to be kind. By acting kindly toward people who have done nothing to deserve it, we positively provoke them to wonder. By showing kindness to others in your church family you are fulfilling Hebrews 10:24 and provoking positively.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Gal. 6:10Father, please help us to reflect You. When we feel like snapping at someone or saying something that cuts unnecessarily, please restrain us. When we feel self-pity because although we reach out in Christian love to our brothers and sisters it won't always be repaid. Forgive us for getting angry at others far too easily. Give us a frsh appreciation of Your great kindness towards us so that we can be kinder. May You love both the world and the Church through us. Cause us to be kind, inviting, welcoming and redeeming. In Jesus' Name, we pray. Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.