Kindness: Be a Pleasant People Person10 min read
Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.
– Psalm 112:4-5
We know within ourselves the difference between a favorable person and an unfavorable person. One is warm and friendly; the other is not ready to reach out. One has a demeanor appropriate to the enjoyment of the Lord; the other seems only to hold contempt for God’s own. One smiles and lightens our day; one is a raincloud that adds his shower of sorrow to the sorrows we already bear. One is quietly ready to give for our sake even though we may not notice; the other is self-seeking and fairly unpleasant to accompany. “A good man shows favor.” We can all certainly agree on this.
The Greek word behind “gentleness” in the KJV is chrēstotēs, but there is more to that word than what is translated into English. It has the thought of kindness applied with grace, which is wholesome in some way to its receptor. A comment in Vincent’s Word Studies gives three synonyms for the word, which provide a good description of it: “wholesome, serviceable, kindly.” Romans 15:2 says “Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.” Why? “For even Christ pleased not himself.” Galatians 6:10 says “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” The Christian calling in a sense is to be “a people person,” that is, showing the warmth of a heart changed by the gospel at every opportunity to every person. Whatever the setting might be, whatever someone’s background might be, our job as believers is to let people know we care.
And surely our accountability in this is great, for we have the most noble example: “with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.” “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.” “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared.” Fruits of the Spirit reflect the One from Whom they come, and surely kindness is something we appreciate experiencing from Him! To be receptors of God’s kindness and not givers of it is one of the greatest shames. Remember the man forgiven his 10,000 talent debt who penalized his debtors? We have been shown great kindness in the depths of our wickedness; what excuse could we possibly have to neglect warmth in our character, especially since the average person we meet has not harmed us in any way?
Models of Kindness
Kindness and Its Behaviour. Genesis 24:14 “And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.”
- Kindness is Obedient. Notice that Rebekah’s response to the servant’s command would be the definition of her kindness. She first of all obeyed her father’s command in going to the well, but she went further and obeyed the servant’s request, though it didn’t hold the same weight: she sacrificed for the sake of doing the right thing. Obligations in our lives are essential and do not require a choice to fulfill. While one can do them willingly or unwillingly, he still must do them. But when it comes to that which is optional, generally one only advances with it when he is willing (kind enough to sacrifice for another’s sake). Are we the kind of people that only act when obligated to? The kind Christian sees an opportunity to elevate another and takes it. The kind Christian sees an opportunity to bring convenience to someone else and sacrifices his time to fulfill that end. There are so many sacrificial ways we can lighten someone’s day, but often those are also optional ways to lighten someone’s day. It will take effort. It will take a watchful eye. But when has it not been worthwhile to be kind in that way? Next time someone makes a request, why not seriously consider fulfilling it? This is kind Christianity.
- Kindness is Overachieving. Character is heartily fulfilling obligations. Good character is fulfilling requests. Optimal character is rising above all these and walking two miles with the person who only asked you to walk one. Rebekah had every right to stop at the servant’s request to drink, but it was part of her natural response to ask if the camels needed to drink, though that would be an afternoon’s worth of work. Twenty-first century work-ethic would give any and every excuse to avoid giving the servant water; it would be especially unthinkable to go beyond that, and without pay! What is your work-ethic?
Kindness and Its Blessing. Ruth 3:10,11 “And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.” 2 Samuel 2:5-6 “And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabeshgilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the LORD, that ye have shewed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him. And now the LORD shew kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing.”
- Kindness is recompensed of the Lord. Scripture speaks very highly of service, even when it is unseen. Both Ephesians and Colossians belabor the point in their latter chapters that our real accountability comes from knowing that God observes our work. But on the flip-side of accountability there comes reward: “Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.” Regardless of recognition or social status (or assembly status for that matter), reward will always be ours for the kindness which emanates from us. This was David’s understanding when the men of Jabesh-Gilead buried Saul: his desire was that the kindness which they showed would be shown to them by God Himself. We can be confident of the same thing; God is no man’s debtor.
- Kindness is recompensed of men. Was this not what David went further to demonstrate in that he wished recompense for these men both on the Lord’s part and on his part? Was this not also the case with Boaz when he said “I will do to thee all thou requirest”? Kindness on our part has practical implications that we don’t even notice sometimes. Is it not kindness that welcomes many different friendships? Is it not kindness that boosts customer service? Is it not kindness that gives people a sense of trust? Is it not kindness that makes people want to give back at least some token of appreciation for what was done? While we should not be kind for the material benefits, let us understand that life is a great deal easier in practical ways when we are.
Kindness and Its Burden. 2 Samuel 9:1 “And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
- Kindness needs no merit in its object. The subject of this story was a man named Mephibosheth, a cripple; and he could really offer David nothing that would benefit him. Yet David took him in, not regarding any inconvenience that might be his for welcoming this lame man into his home. It’s easy to be nice to people we appreciate. But what about the people some would consider “losers,” “outcasts,” “freaks,” and “awkward”? What about those who seem to enrage us whenever they are around?
- Kindness is for the sake of someone dear. Notice that David showed kindness for Jonathan’s sake. It was as if all the merit of Mephibosheth was his connection to David’s closest companion. In reality it was. What is our motivation? Are we happy to practice grace for the sake of our God who showed it first to us?
Kindness and Its Betrayal. 2 Chronicles 24:22 “Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it.”
- Unkindness is heartless. This is quite clear from the brutality of the verse before us. There is no mercy; there is no grace. We look upon such a scene and cry “What tragedy!” But what is the greater tragedy: to be cruel without an example of grace, or to be cruel in spite of an example of grace? You see, this man Joash could not look back to the cross and say “We love Him, because He first loved us.” It doesn’t excuse what he did, but at the same time it makes us look even more guilty since we are faced with the cross. We do have a cross to look back upon: what a shame to disregard its pattern of grace! We understand from it just what Christian behaviour is supposed to look like. But all too often we criticize God’s people without cause, we excuse ourselves from helping them, we pretend they are not worth our time. And we do this directly in front of the cross as it were, forgetting that we were once shown great kindness and still are shown it day by day. Are we not heartless when kindness fails to be part of our daily walk?
- Unkindness has consequences and accountability. We know from what has gone before that the Lord rewards kindness. But He also requites cruelty. There can be no joy in our hearts when we are occupied with self. There can be no peace in our hearts when we quench the Spirit Who gives us peace by sinning against those precious to Him. There can be no usefulness among God’s people when we hold most of them lower than we ought, and perhaps some even in contempt. Yet the consequences go further than simply losing usefulness. Consider the Day of Christ, when our work will be manifest for what it really was. What tragedy to stand before the preeminent Person of Christ and have nothing to give Him but wood, hay, and stubble!
In light of all this, why not greet people with a Christian smile on your face? We should be a people who edify the believers with encouragement rather than discourage them with the burden of our bad days. Let us appreciate people in their uniqueness. Let us respect people in that Christ died for them. Bitterness will only push people away; if we should choose it what will be ours at the end of life except emptiness if we hadn’t invested in eternal souls and good relationships with them? Bitterness brings emptiness, because it leaves us without true fellowship. It leaves us without respect. It leaves us without meaningful relationships. Perhaps its time we learn to be kind. There is too much at stake if we should forget this.