Summary: Intentionally doing acts of kindness as opposed to not intending anything and letting nature take its course.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)
When I told my wife I was writing about “kindness” this week, she choked … I’m sure it was just a reflex action; nothing personal. But still, I figured I’d better do a little more research.
It’s funny how sometimes a thing can be so important and so obvious and so easy to overlook all at the same time. “Kindness” might be one of those things. Especially for men.
Let’s look at the definition of kindness: “sympathetic, helpful, friendly, thoughtful, gentle, well disposed” … it almost sounds effeminate, doesn’t it? Maybe kindness is women’s territory. Women are the nurturers, the caregivers; they build the nest and care for the young.
Men are warriors, protectors, providers. They’re job is to leave the cave, kill something and drag it home. “Kindness” sounds a little girlie for a man’s world. That’s what we’ve been taught, right? Listen to the TV psychologists. When they talk about men being kind and sensitive to the needs of others they say that we need to “get in touch with our feminine side.”
My feminine side is my wife. I’m okay with both halves of me being masculine.
If it sounds like I’m picking on men it’s because I’m prejudiced by my own experience. Kindness doesn’t come naturally to me. Rough and tumble comes natural. Battle and conquest, no problem. But not kindness. It’s not that I’m a mean or cruel person; it’s just that I’m a man – and probably a typical man. I’m sure there are a lot of naturally kind and sensitive guys out there; they’re just not crowding out the rest of us.
When I say that kindness doesn’t come naturally, don’t assume that unkindness does. Unkindness implies action and intention; that somebody is doing something unkind. What I’m really talking about is lack of action and intention on the kindness side. Intentionally doing acts of kindness as opposed to not intending anything and letting nature take its course. And when nature takes its course guys tend to fall short on kindness.
Rather than dig myself any further into this hole, why don’t we just get on to kindness in general.
Kindness, like the other fruit of the Spirit, is really an attribute of God. The reason we are to practice kindness is because He practices kindness … on us.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:4-5a)
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6: 35-36)
Kindness isn’t a state of mind or a mood; it’s an action. And until it becomes a natural part of who you are, it needs to be an intentional action. That means until kind actions flow naturally from you because your heart is filled with kindness you have to practice kindness.
Kindness isn’t just a matter of helping an old lady cross the street or rescuing a cat from a tree. It’s not just good deeds you put into your schedule as part of your “practicing kindness master plan.” This kind of kindness really doesn’t get in your way. It doesn’t require that you change your schedule, your lifestyle, or your mood. It’s Kindness Lite – “do nice things without really changing your day!”
Sometimes kindness doesn’t work out that way.
Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? (Luke 10: 30-37) I don’t need to retell the whole story, everybody knows it already; let’s just hit the high points.
The beat up guy in the ditch was a Jew. The Good Samaritan was … well, a Samaritan. These two groups didn’t like each other, they didn’t associate. The Jews reviled the Samaritans and the Samaritans knew it.
The Samaritan had a schedule to keep. He was apparently a man with business to conduct. He wasn’t poor and he was on the road to somewhere so we’ve got to assume he had things to do and people to see. He didn’t have a lot of time for distractions.
Helping the Jew in the ditch was going to cost the Samaritan time and money, and there was no promise of ever getting reimbursed. Knowing the injured man was a Jew and knowing what Jews thought of Samaritans, there was wasn’t much hope of even getting thanked.
The Samaritan dragged the injured man out of the ditch, dressed his wounds, set him on his own donkey and brought him to an inn, where he could have a bed and be cared for. The Samaritan, already late for his appointment, stayed the night with the injured guy at the inn. The next morning he paid the innkeeper in advance and promised to return and pay any further expense for the traveler’s recovery. The Samaritan made sure the guy was taken care of; he followed through and followed up.