“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
If you research "Why is it important to be kind?" on the internet, chances are, you will find most psychologists saying that we should be kind because, "Kindness boosts serotonin. Kindness makes us feel accomplished. Kindness relieves anxiety. Kindness makes us feel good about ourselves."
But what does kindness mean to a Christian? Is kindness something we do to make ourselves look better to those around us? Is kindness something we use selfishly to make ourselves feel happier?
Kindness is not something we are supposed to do selfishly. Unfortunately, even the act of kindness itself these days has become selfish in nature. In a western world that revolves around "self," it is a shame that even selfless things like kindness have become something we selfishly do to give ourselves a serotonin boost.
Yes, there are physical and mental benefits of showing kindness to others, but that should never be the main reason we express kindness to the world. As Christians, we aren't supposed to do kind things to feel better about ourselves, to give ourselves praise or recognition to others, or to relieve anxiety. Kindness is something we do willingly because of Jesus.
We are meant to be like Jesus. He is the model we are supposed to live by. Did Jesus do kind acts selfishly or to gain praise or recognition for Himself? Never. In fact, Jesus often was tired, fatigued, hungry, and frustrated just like many of us are on a day to day basis. If you need evidence of this, just look at these verses:
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. - Matthew 14:13-14
If you read between the lines, these verses are saying that Jesus wanted to be alone. He purposely went somewhere quiet. He was probably tired, wanted to rest, or wanted to spend time with His Father. But the crowds selfishly followed Jesus, not caring if He needed rest and relaxation. The crowds thought only of themselves. But what did Jesus do? He had compassion on the selfish crowds and healed their sick! Were the crowds entitled to healing? Absolutely not. Was Jesus entitled to His rest? Yes!! But He looked past Himself and healed them out of the kindness of His heart.
I don't know about you, but when I am tired, upset, or even hungry, kindness is never the first thing on my mind. Rather, I am thinking, "You better not mess with me until I get what I need."
Oh, how much better Jesus is than me!
The fact of the matter is, Jesus was the definition of kindness. He came to earth to sacrifice Himself for you personally and for me! He kindly took our burdens onto Himself so that we could live eternally with Him. But, unfortunately, we don't care. We are doing the exact same things as those crowds did, constantly asking Jesus for more... constantly asking Him to bless us or give us what we want. Like those crowds, we are not entitled to blessings from Jesus. (I'm preaching to myself here...) However, out of the kindness of His heart, Jesus still sometimes blesses us with material things. But, He also blessed us all in the best way He possibly could: by giving us Himself.
We need to take on the same attitude Jesus had, to give of ourselves to others even when it seems hard. Not thinking of kindness as something we do selfishly. Never demanding kindness from other people, and never thinking that kindness is something we can only do only once in a while or when we feel like it. We are meant to be kind constantly, no matter how we may feel or what other people may treat us.
Why? Because this is how Jesus lived. He showed kindness to the people who were undeserving of it. He lived to give of Himself. And since we are His followers, we are also meant to give of ourselves to others also, even if they are undeserving.
Since this is Easter weekend, it is a perfect time to reflect on the kindness and sacrificial love of Jesus (though I do believe we need to reflect on it all year long.) So, let's try to give of ourselves this weekend by being selflessly kind to others, even when we don't feel like it.
It's what Jesus would have done for us.
Thank You for Your kindness and Your sacrifice for me. I am thankful for Your love. Help me to show kindness to others, just as You showed to me. I want to live like You because I love You.
In Your name I pray,