I am more convinced than ever that kindness is a fruit the enemy has stolen from our lives and our culture. It is seen as insipid, somehow weak. The culture screams at us to toughen up, to fight to get on top of the pack. Even in Christian circles, true self-giving is not always evident. There is an element of competetiveness that creeps in as we strive to establish 'our ministry'. We long for our hearts to be heard and that can easily become more important than hearing the hearts of others.
Yet we are told in scripture that God - in His kindness - sent Jesus to the cross (Eph 1:7). In His kindness, He chose us to share in his eternal glory (1 Peter 5:10). These are Big Things. Kindness is bigger than I had thought.
I told God I wanted to learn kindness and what came my way? Inconvenience, unkindness, hassle etc.
An example:I was working at home when the phone rang. The church administrator had rung to say a lady in the church had flooded out her flat. No one could be reached, so the administrator had rung me because?? That's what went through my head - 'why me? I don't work for the church. What could I do about it? Can't the church administrator deal with it - she's only just around the corner from the lady and is paid by the church?' Still, something made me supress words of complaint and I agreed to stop by. Well aware that I had a vax that would suck up water, I left it in the shed & made my way across town to see the lady. I have a bad back and the thought of lifting the heavy machine in and out of the car, across a road from the car park and up 2 flights of stairs to her flat, was more than I could bear. So I went there, willing to offer moral support only but was shocked at the amount of water in her carpets which squelched as I walked on them. Her distress was obvious, and she was furious with herself for causing the flood. As she talked, a wave of compassion ran through me. Love came from somewhere and moved me. Now I wanted to help. Silently I decided to go home for the vax until I noticed that she had the very same thing sitting in her hallway!
"Does that work?" I asked. She didn't know. Her daughter had bought it & she didn't know how to operate it. Well I assembled it, plugged it in and spent the next 90 minutes dragging the thing around sucking up bucket loads of water. Yes it hurt my back (but not forever - it wasn't so bad the next day) but so what? The look on her face that someone cared enough to help, was reward enough. I found myself thanking God that I hadn't had to go home to get mine, thanking Him for the opportunity to ignore 'self' and give something of His kindess away.
It is so easy to be kind to those we know and love and who are kind to us. My challenge was to be kind to someone who I didn't know and who had messed up. After that, challenges came in thick and fast. Customers at work (my day job is serving the public) can be very demanding. Could I be kind even there, when colleagues regularly moan about them? How about when the customers were rude or ungrateful? How about when I am tired or feeling unwell? Or when I am desperate for someone to be kind to me - am I still willing to 'put on kindness' (Col 3:12)? And when I fail in it (as is inevitable), will I be kind and forgiving to myself? What about my thought life? Can I be capable of kind thoughts? (So often I can say the right, kind things but be thinking the opposite). When someone gets what I desire, can I walk away from jealousy and be kind towards them instead?
I told God I wanted to learn kindness and rarely has He answered me so quickly, giving me countless opportunities to learn it!! It makes me think it is something close to his heart. Kindess is simply love expressed. And God is Love.