If life has taught me anything it is that I am selfish. I’m being honest. I don’t see very well at times. But times when I do see well, I’m prone to going my own way. I like to agree with those who think like me, and I tend to judge people who think differently.
I am not very kind at times. Indeed, I think it is more the case that kindness is something I’ve had to work on. It isn’t something that comes naturally. I think this is the case for most of us.
I want to suggest that kindness is more than we think it is.
The test of our kindness is the situation that runs cross-grain to our values.
We’re kind when we are when we don’t want to be.
Can we be kind to someone who operates against our sensibilities and rationalities? If we are responsible persons, can we be kind to those who are irresponsible? If we are irresponsible can we be kind to those who are responsible? Perhaps we assume that kindness is the realm of only those who take responsibility. Or maybe we’re overthinking it!
Kindness is that ability to look beyond the issue and value the person.
It is the capacity to keep honouring a person for who they are, especially when we disagree with what they do or how they think. And if we were to push this to the nth degree, we might give the onus of whether we are being kind or not to their perception. We think we’re being kind, but what do they say?
This is the kind of gospel force behind the Rev Wade Watts and how he won over the infamous KKK 2nd grand wizard, Johnny Lee Clary. No matter what Clary did to scare Watts, the Rev kept praying for and loving on Clary. Such kindness was shown amid persecution over a period of several years. Clary became at first befuddled, and then came to be won over by the first exemplification of God’s love he witnessed for himself.
Kindness is a game-changer. It is a love set apart from the world.
It is only ever true kindness when it is done as a choice of self-sacrifice, and not for some indirect gain. I think we can all agree, much kindness we give and receive is done for selfish motives, because we will gain something from our generosity.
Genuine kindness, therefore, is utterly enigmatic to the world. It actually makes no sense at all. And this is why it is even so rare in the church. Who would actually invite persecution and keep on loving back? That is so Jesus-like, and we never think to attempt to pull it off for ourselves.
Who would suffer attack and keep believing the best about the other person?
Answer: the kind person.
True kindness will lead us to love a person beyond their differing viewpoint or their negative treatment of us.
It will lead us to the bigger picture; to recognise the sanctity of the person before us and the freedom operating within them that sits behind the construction of their views. What explains their freedom also explains our own – the loving kindness of God to give us each our choice. Will we love or not?
We may also see that, though we believe our thinking to be right, we all make the same mistakes. We can only see and agree with our own view and those who think like us. The moment we are able to see this, others don’t appear so threatening, and they may begin to perceive us as nonthreatening also.
We truly live in a divisive world where authentic kindness, for its own reasons and not because it agrees with our interests, is rare.
Kindness is differential blindness, because we need to see past our differences to be truly kind. Being kind to those it is easy to be kind to is no real kindness. It is the unlovable person who is difficult to love that proves whether our actions are loving or not. If we love someone who is easy to love, we did our love because it was easy, and that isn’t love.
Yet… the majesty of kindness is that it’s so simple, it is easy.
When we truly wrestle with and master kindness we will find the keys to being able to forgive, for forgiveness is simply kindness, which is a love offered to the person notwithstanding the issues standing between us. Kindness leaves, trusts no less, the judgment to God. It likewise apologises sincerely for any wrongdoing done and trauma experienced.
Kindness, therefore, is justice done and reconciliation effected.
Kindness is blind to the differences between us. It sees the intrinsic value in the other person.
Kindness has the power to heal the world. Worlds healed not through power but through kindness.
Worlds will be changed, yours, mine, ours when kindness defines us, not powers.
God will bless the kind. Strive therefore to be kind.
The power in kindness is yours to give away. Such a power loves fully and is done without fear. Such a power as this… it builds, it supports, it empowers.