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September 24, 2019

5 Surprising Truths about Biblical Kindness

How do you start reading the Bible?

I’m not sure I’ve ever met a person who does not want kindness. In today’s society, people generally agree that more kindness would make the world a better place. But what exactly is it? Where does it come from? What does it do?

Definitions of this word often associate the word with being friendly, generous, and considerate. While this may be helpful, these three terms can fail to depict the full nature of what kindness looks like. Here are five things the Bible reveals about kindness rooted in Christ, which gives the term some needed substance:

1.) Kindness is Powerful

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared… (Titus 3:3-4)

Consider what Paul is claiming here.

He is saying that we were fools. We did not obey. We followed leaders who took us astray. Not only this but we spent all our time wishing we had what others had and being angry at them for having it. Other people hated us, and we returned the favor. If I met a person like this today, I would likely say, “They are too far gone! Nothing can bring them back to goodness.”

Then everything shifts as Paul writes, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared.” Just like that, the previous evils are overshadowed by the great mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   

Kindness, like meekness, gets confused for passivity and ineffectiveness. But the Bible says otherwise—it is the tool of God’s omnipotence. Kindness is so powerful, it is even stronger than death!

2.) Kindness Is Stronger than Death

Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead! (Ruth 2:20)

In discussing a man whom Ruth just met (Boaz), Naomi hopes for best. She says, “may he be blessed by the Lord,” and then she describes the Lord with these amazing words: “whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!”

This woman has seen many trials in her life. First, a famine in her home land caused Naomi and her whole family to flee. Then, her husband died. And then, her two sons pass away. All she had left was her two daughters-in-law, which would soon become one daughter-in-law after the other went back home.

This woman was familiar with death. We may think that she would distrust God or think that He did not care for her or her family. But, in reality, Naomi believes in God’s goodness and knows Him to have a lasting kindness extending both to herself and to her deceased family members.

Death was not enough to make Naomi doubt God’s kindness. Nor was it enough, she knew, to separate her husband and sons from it.

Her words sound a lot like what Paul writes in his letter to the Romans: “For I am sure that neither death nor life… will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

God’s kindness is stronger than death! This was true in Naomi’s day, in Paul’s day, and also in ours. If we are in Christ, we shall always see the power of God’s lovingkindness.

3.) Kindness Prepares for Repentance

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4)

So, kindness has significant power, and it’s power is not meant to simply make us feel better about ourselves. The power of kindness is seen in how it leads people to repentance.

Remember this next time someone makes you angry. You want them to know how they hurt you, and you want them to never do it again. When I am in this position, I usually use a different tool than kindness. I may use spite, gossip, or coldness, thinking to myself that kindness will only encourage their behavior.

This fruit of the Spirit entails forbearance, yet Scripture also tells us that God uses kindness to lead us into repentance. Why should I use a tool other than the one God chooses to use?

4.) Kindness Can Hurt

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
   let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head. (Psalm 141:5)

When I think of actions associated with kindness, I think of “hug,” “listen,” or “smile.” I certainly do not think of “strike!” Yet, Psalm 141 brings together the two words.

When someone speaks a hard truth into your life, it can hurt. Sometimes it feels like they have betrayed you, like they don’t understand you anymore, or like they are looking down on you. In the moment, you can’t see why they would say what they did—and it just feels like an aimless, unprompted attack.

And yet, what at first seems like an aimless attack may actually be a compassionate gesture, pushing you back toward fixing your eyes on Christ. Once your eyes are on Him, you can look back and say: “I was in a bad place, and thanks to the kind strike from my friend, I’ve returned to the peace that comes from Jesus.”

5.) Kindness Brings Honor

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
    will find life, righteousness, and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)

Once again, kindness sometimes carries a connotation of insignificance and failure. Kindness might seem like a nice ideal to some, but if they really want to “make a difference” or “be someone important,” then they can’t be kind all the time.

First of all, this is not true. As we have already demonstrated, kindness is powerful, and it can change the person you never thought would change.

Secondly, it is slightly true. This world promises certain honors, many of which could be missed by a person who was kind all the time. Yet, as Christians, we are called to strive for a greater honor. We are called to imitate the sufferings of Jesus, which result in an imperishable honor.

There is great honor waiting for those who pursue kindness—for they are zealous for good works for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Don’t miss out on this honor by walking in the way of the world.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Davis Wetherell

Davis Wetherell (MA in English, Marquette University) is a writer and editor. He recently managed article content for Open the Bible. He has taught college classes on literature, rhetoric, and composition. Davis has a heart for writers and loves to serve them. Check out his blog.
Davis Wetherell (MA in English, Marquette University) is a writer and editor. He recently managed article content for Open the Bible. He has taught college classes on literature, rhetoric, and composition. Davis has a heart for writers and loves to serve them. Check out his blog.