There it is…
Every time I go down the street…
Just a simple sign that says so much…
Someone has felt the need to remind us that being kind today is an important thing. They feel so strongly that they made a sign and placed it in their front yard.
Maybe it is because our world today is rife with examples of people who are not kind; they are downright cruel. It seems that every nightly news show has at least one video of someone behaving badly. Examples are everywhere now since every cell phone has video capability and every cell phone user knows how to upload videos to social media platforms. Go to those platforms [for example, Facebook] and you will see numerous examples of unkind behavior every day. It seems that many of us must like the entertainment of watching people exhibit hurtful behavior.
Why make such a big deal about this?
Because the fruit of the Spirit includes the fruit of kindness or gentleness.
Here’s the deal; if you profess to be a Christian, the fruit of kindness should show in your life. If it doesn’t, you know you should be working on learning how to show it in the future. This kind or gentle behavior overcomes what Pastor Graham* calls the “harsh and austere.” Graham states “indeed, gentleness is love enduring.”
No Christian should be surprised by this because Jesus Christ was truly a gentle person. Look at the timeframe of His life. There were no institutions in Jesus’ time that were merciful. There were no hospitals, no mental institutions, no places for the poor, and no homes for orphans. We think we live in a cruel world today but today’s world at least has entities that care for those that society labels “the forsaken.”
Think about it; in the middle of a truly unkind world over two thousand years ago, a man was born, a man who performed countless acts of gentleness and kindness. And that Man said “follow Me.” That to me means “do as I do”.
Let’s be frank. People who have some success in their life sometimes seem to find it easy to be hard on those who have had trouble. There is some deep-seated need to be superior that is at the root of lots of unkind behavior. It is even less difficult to be unkind to those who are hateful to us but what does Jesus say about those situations? “Peter [said to Jesus] Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” [Matthew 18: 21-22]. But it also seems to be difficult to be kind to those who are less fortunate, people whose only problem is that they are downtrodden: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.” Many don’t seem to have the heart for helping the poor: “For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after Me” [from Matthew 25].
In the Bible, Jesus was kind to the people who had the hardest lot in life. He dealt harshly with hypocritical religious leaders but to everyone else He showed a wonderful, loving kindness.
Think about the people today who are on the outside of the Christian faith looking in. They see Christians who cannot summon gentleness in regard to those who need it most. Maybe an observer of Christianity is a sinner and on the verge of repentance: imagine how turned off they would be when a Christian turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to people who need simple honest, loving compassion.
At the heart of this problem is the Christian who is judgmental. At the heart of this problem is the Christian who is legalistic. At the heart of this problem is the Christian who is cruel…and yet, they still see themselves as a “good” follower of Jesus Christ.
Then think of the model of Jesus Christ, who was tender, gentle and kind to everyone. That kind of person is the best recruiter for the faith. Even little children felt they could approach Jesus without fear.
Today the language of cruelty is everywhere. In fact, many feel that gentleness is a sign of weakness, but Graham says “they are wrong!” Graham quotes Charles Hembree who says “In our age of guided missiles and misguided men there is a desperate need for us to learn how to show gentleness. It seems strange that in an age when men can reach the moon, bounce signals off of far planets, and receive pictures from whirling satellites we have great difficulty communicating tenderness to those about us.”
Graham sees the power of kindness as the greatest tool in the toolkit of the preacher. A preacher can preach eloquent sermons but if he or she can be kind to people in the congregation, they can really lead the people to Jesus Christ. “The gentle heart is the broken heart—the heart that weeps over the sins of the bad as well as the sacrifices of the good.”
It is not good to underestimate the power of kindness in a harsh world. When all around us we see people who are capable of hateful behavior, it speaks volumes when one single person remembers to simply…
*Pastor Billy Graham from his book The Holy Spirit…