One of the most beautiful qualities a person can possess is kindness. It has nothing to do with physical appearance but is an internal virtue that expresses itself externally toward others. We are naturally drawn to gracious and thoughtful people. And we’re not the only ones who value kindness; the Lord is also pleased to see it in His children.
Kindness is one of God’s attributes. Psalm 145:17 says, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.” Every breath we take is proof of this, but sometimes we can’t see God’s kindness in the midst of sickness, emotional pain, or other difficulties. Although it may not be clear at the moment, God remains kind and will always bring some good from the adversity in our lives (Rom. 8:28).
The greatest display of the Lord’s kindness toward us is seen in salvation. This is mercy—kindness toward those who suffer and steps taken to relieve their misery. As God’s enemies, with no chance of redeeming ourselves, we were in a hopeless situation and could expect only loss, grief, and eternal anguish. But in His mercy, God had compassion on us and sent His Son to die in our place. This priceless gift resolved our difficulty and made eternal joy our inheritance instead.
Now, whenever we act with kindness or ease the suffering of others, we act like Jesus, who is the image of His Father (Col. 1:15). As part of our new identity in Christ, we are called to put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice because they no longer fit. Instead of being defensive, overpowering, and demanding, we are now called to be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving (Eph. 4:31-32).
When the apostle Paul wrote these words from a Roman prison, he had every right to be angry and bitter because of his mistreatment, yet he advocated a courteous, compassionate, and forgiving attitude, thereby demonstrating that kindness and mercy are appropriate responses in every circumstance.
Because of the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we each have the potential to become a person characterized by compassion. But how do we develop this quality?
First, practice kindness. Treat others as you’d like to be treated—courteously and gently (Matt. 7:12). When situations tempt you to respond harshly, see them as God-given opportunities to bless others with kind words and actions. Focus on their needs and not on your right to receive justice or retribution. The heart of kindness is a humble, Christlike attitude that forgoes personal demands and is blessed in return: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7). People are often suffering in ways not obvious to us. Having a merciful attitude means God will make sure we’re treated with mercy, too.
The most important place to model such an attitude is in the home. When the relationships in your family are governed by kindness, your children are more likely to develop this quality as well and pass it down to future generations. Therefore, pay close attention to how you interact with family members, and find ways to ensure the merciful response is highly valued in your home.
Second, yield to the Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). This fruit is not a natural human quality but the work of God’s Spirit in your heart. When you were saved, you became a new person who is being transformed by the Holy Spirit into Christ’s image. But Christlike fruit can only be developed as you walk in obedience to His Spirit. It requires that you lay aside all the attitudes that don’t fit who you are in Christ—like selfishness, pride, and a critical spirit. When you allow the Holy Spirit to live through you moment by moment, He will empower you to show mercy to others whether you feel they deserve it or not.
Third, pray for kindness. “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart” (Prov. 3:3). This is God’s will for you; so come boldly before His throne and ask Him to help you “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12). Then watch for opportunities and respond in obedience when the Lord faithfully reminds you to be merciful and caring to those around you.
I think you’d agree there is a tremendous need for kindness and mercy in our society. We are surrounded by harsh demands, but God has placed us here as lights in a dark world. And nothing grabs people’s attention like gentle and forgiving treatment. Therefore, let’s make it our ambition to be faithful ambassadors of Christ by blessing those around us with patience, concern, compassion, and thoughtfulness.
Charles F. Stanley
P.S. I hope the enclosed gift encourages you in this year of challenge for so many. No matter how uncertain or difficult your circumstances might be, almighty God is on your side. It’s my prayer that you’ll trust in His perfect refuge and His lovingkindness; He will sustain you daily. God bless you today and always.