Recently, a friend mentioned receiving an unexpectedly snarky text. I could tell that it had struck a chord. Most likely, the text had been sent in the spirit of “fun,” but it came across as rude.
“Gosh,” I said, shaking my head. “Why do that? I mean, it’s not like it costs anything to be kind!”
In my head, I was thinking of spontaneous acts of kindness, when you choose to simply do something, like sending a text out of the blue. Choosing to say uplifting words. Choosing to do something nice for someone you love … or even for a stranger. Choosing to listen deeply to a conversation, instead of spending your time thinking about what clever or witty or epic thing you can say next.
Do you see the common ground here?
Kindness is seen in our choices.
Kindness is an action. We learn this as children. How many of you had to repeat the golden rule?
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
(Did you know the “golden rule” is actually a biblical principle? You can find it in Matthew 7:12.)
These acts of kindness I mentioned are simple. Small even. But we never know the impact a small kindness can have on someone’s day. Or the way it can influence someone’s life.
Even the smallest acts of kindness can show someone that we see them. That they matter. It is just one of the many ways that we can be vessels for Christ’s love to others.
I experienced such an act of kindness recently.
As an author, I occasionally attend conferences for writers. While I love attending, conferences can also be overwhelming. It is easy to feel small and unimportant in a crowd of hundreds of writers, authors, and publishing professionals. This year, after attending a great session, I found myself in a conversation with the speaker. Instead of acknowledging my thanks and moving to the next in line, he chose to listen and offer encouragement. Later on, he found me again.
“I wanted you to know that you are seen,” he said. “And your stories have value.”
This kindness—as small as it seems—ended up being something that God used to draw me out of a season of doubt and loneliness that I had been struggling through. All it took was someone listening and choosing to offer encouragement. Such a small cost for a kindness that had such huge impact, right?
As I reflected more on my flippant statement—“It doesn’t cost anything to be kind!”—I realized that it’s not true. On the surface, spontaneous kindness—kind words, helping deeds, a friendly smile instead of an averted gaze—can seem like it doesn’t cost much.
But what about when we’re tired and the last thing we want to do is initiate a conversation, even if it’s as simple as wishing someone well? What about when we have to choose to offer kindness to someone who has been unkind to us? In those instances, kindness is not cheap.
Kindness may cost everything.
It can cost us our pride. It can cost us time. It can cost us friendship or status or popularity. When kindness is not cheap or easy, how can we still make that choice to act upon it?
Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan is an excellent place to start. Samaritans were shunned by Jews. In fact, Jewish travelers would often take wildly indirect routes to avoid Samaria. And yet, the Good Samaritan—instead of the priest or the Levite—chose to help the injured Jewish man. Not only did he go out of his way to bandage the wounds of a man who would despise him, he also paid for his lodging and care.
Can you imagine what that must have cost? Not just in money but in pride and self-regard? Following the parable, Jesus issues this command: “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37b).
So the first answer to “How can we?” is that we are commanded to do so. But that command is made easier in light of the kindness that God has shown us through Jesus Christ!
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages, He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6-7, NIV)
When kindness seems to cost us too much, we can remember that it cost Jesus more. Kindness cost Him everything.
Has kindness ever cost you? How can you choose kindness today?