Our Scripture of the day is Ephesians 4:32:
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Today’s “one-another” verse is at the end of a great section containing several very significant verses all framed within the “put off – put on” theme of Ephesians 4. Since I am going to share soon another verse devoted almost exclusively to forgiveness, I will share a few words on the kindness part of our verse for today.
Our world is harsh. Yes there is much attention given to diversity and mutual acceptance, but so much of that is couched within a political agenda and not a moral one, and a lot of it is communicated with little kindness.
I can’t help but think that if we really concentrated on being kind to one another, and being tenderhearted that a great deal of our stresses and conflicts would dissolve – in the church, in marriages, at workplaces. Ours is a world where simple kindness is fast becoming a lost virtue.
Kindness and tenderheartedness are related, the second offering insight especially into the first. To be kind is to have a tender heart and spirit toward the other, and to put that tenderness into words and action.
Most of us are not what we portray. We are hurting in some way. There is pain in the eyes of most people I see. Behind every smile there is a touch of sadness. Yes, in our life together, there is a time for exhortation and rebuke, but how much more that can be received if kindness is the norm.
Kindness is so practical. It has to do with the tone of our speech, the language of our bodies, the words we choose, and the effort we take to notice others. And it also has to do with acts – usually simple acts not related to special events and culture driven expectations but just with the need of the other for gentleness, kindness, and tenderheartedness.
We all need kindness, and may be expectant of receiving it. We get upset when people don’t seem kind to us. But if we each focus on being kind to the other then there would be plenty of kindness to go around.
Almost all of us are less secure, less confident, and more needy of encouragement and simple acts of love than we let on. We need less to be other people’s projects then we need to receive other people’s kindness.
Kindness replaces malice, anger, gossip, and unforgiveness. Yes, there can be no kindness where forgiveness is lacking. But that is for another day.
You know, as an observer of human behavior, as a pastor and counselor, and as a person in my own right, I have come to see how simple kindness goes a long way. But to be kind we have to stop; we have to notice; we have to greet, we often need to think ahead. We need room in the busyness of our lives to slow down. It is very hard to be kind on the run. Do you have time in your life to be kind?
Kindness gives other people the benefit of the doubt. It cuts others a little slack. It is very hard to be judgmental and kind at the same time.
We all like to know that we are appreciated, that we are missed when we are away, that we are noticed, that we matter. Kindness does all those things.
I want my children to work hard and be succe3ssful at whatever they do. But more than anything I like hearing of one of my children that they have been kind. I really don’t care so much whether or not they are great scholars, athletes, beauty queens, or business women. I mean, all of that is fine. But it all pales into utter nothingness compared to simple kindness.
And the same goes for me. Yeah, it would have been cool to be a great athlete, to have been a great scholar, to be a great preacher, or a super entrepreneur. But if at the end of my long road of life someone were to see fit to write on my tombstone “He was kind” (assuming my Christian faith of course) then I will have succeeded in this walk of life. I want to be more that way. I hope you do too.