I think all of us want to think of ourselves as kind people. I love animals and I would never hurt one – that makes me kind, right? I feel bad for people (empathize or sympathize) when I see someone hurting, someone homeless, someone hungry. It hurts my heart to hear that anyone is in pain, anyone sick. I want to feed all the people, help all the animals, give all the children loving parents, etc.
That’s all great. I’m sure most of you are like that too. The problem is, I don’t actually do any of those things. I’m not volunteering my time because I’m so focused on surviving right now. I tithe, but I’m not giving generously. I keep thinking, “As soon as I have more time, more money, then I can do something.” It’s my excuse. I’m just too busy, too broke, too tired to help right now. But in the future, when things get better then I can help.
But that’s all it is – an excuse. Could I volunteer my time? Of course. I don’t work as long on the weekends, I could easily give some of my free time to others. Could I give more generously? If I truly trusted the Lord to provide, yes I could. Will I do those things?
Here’s where the painful honesty comes in. Right now, no, I probably won’t. I know, it sounds awful. Sometimes it makes me think I’m a terrible person for knowing what I should do and not doing it. Part of it is that I don’t want to do it alone, but my husband isn’t interested in doing any of that right now. He’s so focused on trying to provide for me, to get his businesses up and running, to improve our lives that his head isn’t in the same place as mine.
The thing is, I don’t need him to volunteer with me. I could do it by myself. I just don’t want to. I’m trusting God enough to tithe, but right now finances are so tight that I don’t really want to give beyond tithing. Well, let me rephrase: I want to give beyond tithing, but I’m not going to because I need to put that money toward bills.
I know that one day I have to do as God says. I have to start donating my time and money (but my time more than anything) to help others. I also know that focusing on other people instead of myself would actually fill me with more joy and peace than if I stay focused on solving my problems and working hard every day. But I’m just not there yet. What about you? Is there something God keeps asking you to do, but you just aren’t ready to take that step? How long are we going to wait?
1 Corinthians 13:4 says that “Love is kind.” If I want to love like God does, I have to learn how to be kind. To have the fulfilled life I desire, I have to learn how to be kind.
Despite everything I said above, kindness is not just in volunteering your time and money to worthy causes or needy people. Those are great and things that every Christian should do. But they aren’t the only things.
Be kind to your spouse. If you are married, your spouse is the closest person to you. In fact, your spouse should be your best friend, prayerfully anyway. I know Justin is my best friend. But because we are around each other so much, I am not always kind to him. And I know a lot of spouses could say the same (if they are being honest). We snap at each other, take out our stress and anxiety on one another, even blame our disappointments and setbacks on one another. But that isn’t kindness.
That’s why I’m glad that the Lord is constantly working on me to help me improve how I treat my husband. When I start being rude, selfish, snappy, or anything that would hurt his feelings, anything unkind, the Holy Spirit immediately convicts me. I can’t say I always respond immediately though. Sometimes I will. Sometimes I’ll quickly apologize and he always forgives me. And yes, he is quick to do the same when he’s in the wrong. But again, we don’t always do that. Sometimes I’ll be angry for hours before finally giving in and apologizing. But hey, we’re always growing, always maturing, and that’s what is important.
Our children are another place where we need to be kind. I think the biggest struggle for a parent is not to yell at your kids. I was yelled at as a child for a few years before the Lord helped my mom to grow and change. And I’ve watched plenty of parents yell at their kids from babyhood into their teen years. Usually, we yell because we feel we aren’t being heard, aren’t understood. But yelling simply means you’ve lost control and you’ve just given it to your child. As the parent, you have to be in control. Not in a mean way, but in a way that will lead your child on the right path – whatever path God has laid out for them.
I know being a parent is hard. No, I’m not a mom yet. I will prayerfully be one in the next few years, Lord willing. But I do know God’s Word and I am a good observer (part of my shy trait). Yelling has absolutely no benefit to a child. In only one case can it actually help: when a child’s life is in danger. If you see your kid run out into the street, yell at him or her to get them to move. That kind of situation. But at no other time is yelling ever the way to get your child to do what you want.
What does yelling do to us? Well, think of yourself. Do you like being yelled at? How do you feel when someone yells at you? I know I feel defensive. I immediately shut down, stop listening to the person, and usually try to walk away or just ignore him or her until the yelling stops. I can tell you, it does NOT make me want to listen or obey. In fact, it turns off my hearing and makes me want to do the exact opposite of what they said.
Do you really expect your child to react any differently? If we, as adults, shut down and either tune a person out or yell back at the person, why in the world do we expect our kids to react any differently? Your child is just that…a child. He or she is not going to learn from yelling. If you get angry, walk away. Go to your room and calm down before you deal with a situation. Make sure if you need to deal out a punishment, you can do so with calm judgment and fair consideration. Once you’re calm, sit your child down and talk to him or her about the situation. Explain why you got upset, what you are expecting from the child, and why you expect it – how does it benefit the child, your family, or society in general? And if you do need to punish your child, explain the punishment and why you are enforcing it. Let your child ask you questions! (I am thankful my own parents did this)
Anyway, this is actually a WHOLE other post and I will write one about it later on. As you can probably tell, this is something on which I am very passionate.
Okay, let me wrap this up. If we want to love the way God loves us, we need to learn how to be kind to others. Our family, our friends, ourselves. And strangers. Even something as simple as a smile at a stranger, or a compliment to your cashier, a pleasant tone of voice when calling customer service, holding the door open for someone – all of these are small acts of kindness that can truly mean a world of difference to someone, even if it means very little to you.
There is so much more I want to say on this subject, but clearly, that will have to be another post too because this one is already pretty long.
I pray today that the Lord will teach us how to be kind to one another, saved and unsaved alike. This world truly needs more kindness.
Continuing the series: