What is Kindness?
God says, “Love is kind” (1 Cor 13). Kindness is:
Showing sympathy concern or understanding (sympathetic understanding).
Thesaurus on Kindness: Grace, favor, service, charity, unselfish concern for others welfare (altruism), compassion, generosity.
Do you enjoy hearing about other people being hurt? Do you laugh at someone else’s misfortune? Do you have compassion for the homeless and people in need, or do you point your nose up at them? When someone tells you about a bad day at work, or something awful or unfortunate, do you jump into giving them a solution or do you simply listen?
Jesus felt the pain of others. He had compassion for them and helped them (Matt 9:36; 14:14). We must do the same. We must care enough for other human beings to try and understand what they feel – not for the sake of feeling their pain – but to do something about it. This is kindness. Kindness is self-less – its about someone else and how we can help them. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. I can tell a person is Spirit-filled by their amount of authentic kindness.
Kindness in Relationships
Even when we can do nothing to help someone in need, we still can sympathize and understand them. Simple sympathy is kindness and it helps a great deal. Men often fail at this in relationships when the woman tells the man about her bad day. The man usually responds with a cold-cut solution. Although, the solution may be helpful it wasn’t what the woman wanted; and so the woman is offended. The unkind man looks at the woman’s problem as something to solve.
The man listens to the woman’s problem once more and says, “so, what do you want me to do about it?” The woman is further offended because the man doesn’t understand kindness. The woman never wanted a solution, she wants her man to “feel her” – to sympathize and understand her situation – that’s all. She may already have a solution. It was never about finding a solution to the problem, it was about her need for sympathy.
Sympathy is humane, it brings comfort to someone who is lonely in a dire situation. The fact that someone else understands where they are makes the situation not so difficult anymore. Sympathy is like emotional support, and so we ask for it when we need it. Its a shame to not only deal with a hurtful situation alone, but when you reach out for help to people who are suppose to care, mistakenly, they throw salt in your wounds by being unkind.
Males are taught to be unkind
Even though the lack of kindness shows itself in both sexes, men are actually taught not to be so kind. Kindness is looked at as weakness; and so they learn to cut off certain emotions that stem from kindness; and become careless, callous and unkind. In fact, the more callous and ruthless, the better (at least, when in the presence of other males). I’ve heard Christian men sit around gawking about how someone got beat and hurt – all the while caring nothing for that individual. What if it was you who was the one that was beaten? Oh, how loveless we are as human beings.
This teaching could have possibly come from soldiers in battle – you can’t show compassion for the enemy or you’d risk being killed. This may apply to war, but not other areas of life. It’s not uncommon for a male to have difficulty showing kindness for their children or wives. In most men, the mere thought of “I should show some kindness in this situation” never crosses their mind – leaving their wives and children wounded. Little boys, when treated with unkindness from their own fathers, are told to “bulk-up”, “deal with it”. This develops a callous response to sensitive situations, where the young boys display the same lack of love as their fathers.
Kindness understands and respects differences
How do you feel about people who are different than you, perhaps in race, personality, culture, appearance, or profession? Do you try to understand their differences without making final judgments? Or do you disrespect, reject and fear them? Kindness respects and understands the differences in people.
There are many differences among us humans and we won’t initially understand them. To understand, you will have to become selfless, humble and active towards people who you feel are foreign. The more we learn about different people, the more we grow, appreciate and can respect them. When we don’t try to understand but reject, fear, and disrespect, we offend those who are different from us and this shows our lack of love. Here are a few examples of common displays of unkindness, where the individual didn’t take the time to try and understand:
- A church group doesn’t take the time to understand why their new visitor has spiky, pink hair and black fingernails. Because of her appearance, they reject her with contemptuous stares and comments, causing a stumbling block in her journey toward accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
- The prejudice white person makes a conclusion about blacks from watching the news – that they’re loud, uneducated, criminal barbarians. So the white person treats blacks with fear, contempt and disrespect. Then the white person prides himself in knowing that he’s a better person – better than “those black people.”
- The person who assumes that homeless people or beggars are in their condition because of drug abuse. So the person shuns them as they ask for help.
- The potential client of a web design firm believes the cost of a website proposal is outrageous. The customer doesn’t understand all the talent, effort, time and technical skill that goes into building a professional web presence, therefore, they scoff at the designer’s quote and replies with a low-ball offer.
- The extroverted person who treats the introverted personality-type as if something is wrong with them – because they don’t understand why they’re quiet, secretive and considered a “loner” – different from the rest of the population. The extrovert may reject or patronize the introvert because they prejudge and won’t try to understand a personality difference, often leaving introverts angry and offended.
- While homosexuality is a sin, there are many Christians who instantly reject and despise those who engage in it. If gays weren’t so hated by church people – maybe they’d come to Christ. Often, Christians are the first Jesus they’ll ever see. We are to hate the sin, not the person.
Simply asking the question of why and how can go a long way into learning and understanding differences in people. Don’t always assume you understand – this is pride (which isn’t love either). And even if you don’t get it – respect them anyway. Do to others as you want done to you (Matthew 7:12). Would you like to be rejected, treated with disdain or disrespected, or even feared, because of your differences? Try to understand people’s differences, and if not, give respect – this is how you show love.
Be like Jesus
If we aren’t kind to others, we don’t love others and if we don’t love others, we don’t love God. Let’s be kind, consider and help one another. Let’s care about another person’s situation enough to do something about it. Jesus is kind and sympathizes with us:
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
1 With all my heart I praise the LORD, and with all that I am I praise his holy name! 2 With all my heart I praise the LORD! I will never forget how kind he has been. 3 The LORD forgives our sins, heals us when we are sick, 4 and protects us from death. His kindness and love are a crown on our heads (Psalm 103:1-4 CEV).
Let’s be like Jesus. Let’s love people by being kind, sympathetic and understanding towards them.
How to be Kind:
- Think about if someone’s bad situation was reversed and you were in their shoes.
- Help those who are in need and don’t patronize them.
- The fruit of the Spirit is kindness (Gal 5:22). Allow the Spirit to make you kind.
- When listening to someone’s problems, simply listen, sympathize and understand their situation, don’t jump into giving solutions unless they ask.
This article is part of the series, "True Love"
- What is True Love?
- Patience: Good things take time
- What is Kindness?
- Kindness Part 1: Love is Sympathetic
- Kindness Part 2
- Kindness Part 3: Helping others in need
- A Call for Honesty in the Body of Christ
- Love Doesn’t Gossip
- Can Christians Curse?
- The Ugliness of Pride & Arrogance
- The sin of envy: don’t hate, congratulate
- Forgiveness and Healing
This article was written by Neal Chester (Nealreal) and published December 24, 2009. If this article was helpful, share it using the buttons below. If you'd like to redistribute this content in other ways, visit our terms for more information.