By Whitney Standlea
In recent years, God has constantly shown me just how amazingly kind He is, and how that real, genuine kindness should flow from me to others. I have seen just how little that is the case.
Every time I read Ephesians 4:31-32, I am again stricken by my constant struggle to be kind and tender-hearted to my children and husband. With this constant struggle in my own life, I assume many of you struggle with this as well. I hope these thoughts on this challenging word will be an encouragement and help to you in your pursuit of Christ-likeness.
Cultivating Kindness: Fertilizer, Compost, and other Good Stuff Kindness is something that needs to be cultivated within us. To grow a fruitful harvest of kindness, it has to be rooted in good, rich soil. We find the root of kindness toward those around us in the kindness God has extended to us. Psalm 145:17 says “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works.” I would encourage you to read this Psalm to be reminded of some of the kind ways of our mighty God. All His works are kind, but we see the pinnacle of kindness in God’s compassion and mercy in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We see His kindness again and again as He faithfully meets all of our needs and tenderly sanctifies us despite our weakness, sin, and failure. It is God’s kindness toward us that provides good heart-soil for extending kindness outward. So, I ask you the question Joyce Juhnke posed to me: “Do I see God’s kindness?” Do you see it? Stop and think about it. Take time to look for it in what He has done and what He is presently doing in your life.
Tending the Garden: Remember that kindness starts in the home, where it is certainly the hardest! Do you have a roommate? A spouse? A sibling? A parent? A co-worker? A child? These are the people we interact with the most, and we should actively seek to extend kindness to them. But just as growing plants require pruning and guiding, kindness is a work that has to be actively developed in our relationships. I love Joyce’s observations that if older women are to teach younger women to be kind, then it must not be natural! Knowing, being, doing, and excelling at kindness isn’t our natural disposition. We must seek and strive to do it and to learn how to be skilled at kindness.
So how do we strive for kindness to others? What does it look like? What are some skills and tools for kindness in our lives?
Some keys to kindness are:
—The Tongue: One might say this is the ultimate tool of kindness. Scripture has much to say about the impact of kind words from our mouth. And we all know that kind words aren’t always about the words themselves, but also the tone and volume of what comes from our lips. The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 has “the law of kindness” always on her lips. Check out Proverbs 15:1, 25:15, and 31:26. Do you actively choose to speak words that give grace to those who hear you? Are your words spoken with gentleness and love?
—Acts of Service: Kindness is more than our words and includes the acts we do to show love to others. Toilet leaning, meals for the sick, cards of encouragement, a hug, a phone call to a lonely friend are all expressions of kindness that can mean a lot to others. Unsure of what would be kind to do for someone? What would you have others to do for you? That’s a great place to start! We also can grow in our knowledge of how to be kind as we face our own difficult seasons and remember what acts of kindness meant the most to us then.
—Enjoying the Fruit: The Proverbs listed above reference the direct effect that kind words have on our relationships. A kind mouth can certainly dissipate conflict and tension in our homes. But more than that, kindness can ultimately turn others to the source of our own kindness: Christ!
Joyce shared with me a beautiful story of the Lord’s kindness through others. Some friends came into town to visit them when they were in seminary and struggling financially. It seemed impossible to provide food for this family on the Juhnke’s tight funds. They took their needs to the Lord, trusting that He would take care of them. When the family arrived to stay with them, they had brought a side of beef for the Juhnkes! This amazing act of kindness from some believers was also an act of kindness from the Lord that demonstrated and affirmed His faithfulness to the Juhnkes.
After exhorting men, women, and bondservants in Titus 2, we are urged to do these things “so that in everything [we] may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” Our kindness, which is fueled by God’s kindness toward us, ultimately points others back to the kindness of our Savior. Let us be diligent to cultivate kindness in our life! “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
*Thank you to Joyce Juhnke and Allison Dull for providing the content to prepare this article.
Whitney Standlea is a wife, mother, elementary music teacher at Faith Christian Academy and a member of Faith Community Church.