Kindness. An intrinsic reaction of showing gratitude and generosity to those around us. Kindness changes everything.
Recent events of my life have left me at considering that definition of kindness. Kindness used to be something I took for granted. In my little conservative Christian bubble, I had not been exposed to unkindness on a daily level. It was common to experience the unkindness of circumstances and society, but the unkindness of Christianity has crept into my life over the last year and truly shook my foundation.
The interesting thing is that I'm truly starting to understand that the unkindness that I'm seeing will have a direct effect on how my children are modeled kindness. Kindness seems to be fading in our world and I've decided that kindness is something that we need to start intentionally modeling for our children. Kindness changes everything, but it must be modeled.
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”1 John 3:18 (ESV)
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.1 Peter 3:8-9 (ESV)
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Kindness Changes Everything
Let’s get this cleared up, I am not writing this out of some sort of unkindness done to me. My heart feels no vein of injustice. I’m not speaking of gossip, social injustice, political divisions, or family conflicts. I’m speaking of when our heart wells up with selfish emotion. Those emotions become a vein of doubt. That vein of doubt becomes a river of selfish pursuit. That river of selfish pursuit becomes the dividing wall against the world. The world has become your enemy and you fight back with unkindness.
Selfish pursuit leads to unkindness. But when someone is truly kind, kindness changes everything.
Let’s take an example.
A mechanic that you trust has severely messed up your car. There’s no doubt that the problem is the mechanics fault. They fix the problem, but due to their improper use of equipment the parts of your car have been damaged.
You pay you bill without an angry word to the company. Good job you tell yourself, my Christian attitude was on par. I held it together even though they deserved my anger for ruining a valuable possession. Inside you are boiling at the injustice done. At home you slam your car door and walk inside only to find your spouse and children waiting with dinner. These are your trusted allies and they will understand the injustice done to you. Calmly you spew out all the negativity your heart has towards the incompetence of the company that ruined the parts of your car. Your spouse sympathizes and even feels the unfairness of the situation. Your children listen with rapt attention.
Later that week you drive by the mechanic with your family and again tell your story of how that company is not to be trusted. Confidently you tell your family we will not be taking our vehicles back there again. Someone at work hears the story, you chat about it with friends at church, and share your experience with family. Not once do you raise your voice or call out a specific person. An injustice has been done and you are just sharing your experience.
Then one day you hear your young son talking to a friend at church, my family will never take our cars to ______ again, they are idiots there and none of them will probably go to heaven.
This story is fictitious, but the essence of it is an actual real-life story. The ripple effect of selfish leads to unkindness and that ripple has far reaching consequences. Unkindness does not have to be directed at a specific person, unkindness is a ripple effect.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.James 3:16 (ESV)
I would be remiss with myself if I did not mention that there is a type of unkindness that leads to good.
Think of the gospel for a moment. God created the world, man, and women and declared everything good. Sin entered the world and humans embraced it. We rejected God and turned away from his truth. Yet God continued to pursue us.
Jesus, God himself, came to earth and ministered to the poor and rich alike. Then the greatest unkindness seen in human history unraveled. Jesus himself was brutally tortured and killed by those same people he was coming to save.
Our little selfish feelings are grains of sand in compression to the unkindness and injustice done to our Savior. It seems frail to say that an unkindness was done to Jesus. The entire wrath of God was poured out on him. The unkindness that we feel in this world is nothing in comparison.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—Galatians 3:13 (ESV)
And yet such a ravage act of unkindness led to the greatest gift for you and me. Our salvation. Jesus arose from the dead and extends grace and mercy every day to the same mankind that rejects what he offers with every dark deed of selfish pursuit. Jesus is the primary reason that kindness changes everything!
Are you liking these coloring images? You can grab the entire Kindness Changes Everything coloring pack by visiting this link.
The Kindness of Jesus
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”John 8:12 (ESV)
And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.Matthew 10:28 (ESV)
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:17(ESV)
The ripple effect of unkindness is great is this world. We pursue our self and our own selfish goals. Even when we don’t realize it our selfishness can lead to unkindness. Anger can ruin a day, a criticizing look cripple a spirit, an unkind word can crush resolve.
I was struck with a question from someone recently that left me shook. A very unkind situation was unraveling, and my heart was grieved. When I asked that person what Jesus would have done, this statement was shot back at me, would Jesus let _____ happen if he was here?
I’m not going to dive into the theological ocean of what Jesus would do if he was in any of the unkind or unjust situations, we find ourselves in. That theological rabbit trail is left to better theologians than me.
However, Jesus told us to follow him. To continue the work, he had done on this earth. To be a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. To lay down our lives and follow him. Jesus laid down his life and sacrificed it for us. What better way to follow than to lay down our selfishness and follow his example?
The kindness of Jesus is evident in scripture. He reached out to the undeserving and loved on the sinful. That is truly an example of how kindness changes everything!
Our words and actions have meaning, they are charged by our heart. Is your heart actions fueled by the cross of Jesus Christ or the cross of selfish death?
All deeds are right in the sight of the doer, but the Lord weighs the heart.Proverbs 21:12 (ESV)
The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.Luke 6:45 (ESV)
Our hearts want vindication for the injustice of this world. To assume that the people around us are wrong and we are right. We do know the truth of the gospel, but do not mistake the truth as an excuse for unkindness. Jesus never did. He knew more about truth than anyone that has ever stepped foot on this earth. Yet most of his ministry was rooted in kindness and love toward ALL of mankind.
What does the Bible say about the Kindness of God?
But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.Hosea 12:6 (ESV)
So where does that leave us? How do we balance justice and love in a world that is full of injustice, hatred, and falsehood? I personally believe the balance is united at kindness. We are sinful people full of pride and selfishness. We want justice for good reason.
Little children cry when their toys break because they know intrinsically that brokenness is wrong. Yet we teach our children not to throw the toy in anger, but to work through the emotions that plague their little hearts with compassion and love. We might help them repair the toy, or even buy a new one, but most of our energy is not focused on fixing the problem as much as it is guiding our children in how to work through the disappointment of brokenness in a constructive manner.
Yet, when we face adult brokenness, how do we respond? The car mechanic is dishonest, so we let everyone know that they are not to be trusted. We get cut off on the road, and we honk our horns. We see a person that has been difficult at the store and we quickly dash into the next section to avoid contact. A social media post gets misinterpreted and we harbor resentment and anger. Our Church isn’t operating how we think it should, so we pull our tithing.
Dear people of God, we can still approach brokenness with sorrow and regret without an outpour of unkindness in our heart. Kindness is not just the outward act, but an intrinsic reaction. When done right, kindness changes everything.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.1 John 3:18 (ESV)
You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.Matthew 12:34 (ESV)
Teaching our Kids to be Kind
Are you as convinced as I am that kindness changes everything? I am even more convinced that I need to start looking deeper at teaching my kids to be kind. In fact, there is an entire book on this matter called "Teaching Kids to be Kind" by psychologist Rachael Tomlinson.
Rachel is an experienced psychologist and parenting expert who has worked with children and families in general counselling, play therapy, women's refuge, education settings, children's care, domestic violence and trauma counselling. She has also delivered at presentations, at national conferences on topics relating to play therapy and trauma and provides expert commentary to the media on parenting and mental health topics. You can read more about Rachel on her website Toward Well Being.
This book on teaching kids to be kind is phenomenal and it comes at it from a honest science approach without diminishing the role of parents or care givers. I love that she emphasizes on more than one occasion that every family is different.
Listen to one of my favorite quotes from the book,
"It's easy to believe that simply being kind to our child is enough; however we may forget to apply this ideal to others in our lives (family, friends, strangers), and all this does is confuse our children."Rachel Tomlinson, Teaching Kids to be Kind
Another amazing book about kindness is "The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional" I went through this devotional a couple years ago and found it incredibly helpful as I considered how much kindness changes everything.
How can we Show Kindness to Others?
Biblically speaking kindness should become a natural instinct to us as Christians. Learning gratitude as children also can lead us to be kinder. As we understand how much we are grateful for, kindness towards others will naturally well up inside and spill over into good deeds and good works.
Maybe this post has made you do some thinking. One of the most effective things that I do when I need to think is taking some time to be creative. These kindness coloring pages, maybe just what you need to
What are 10 Acts of Kindness?
Teaching our kids to be kind starts with modeling it to them. Here are some kindness modeling ideas that I have gathered from my own kindness journey, and from reading the two books I mentioned above.
- Help your child start a gratitude journal by gifting them a new pen and notebook! Do your own gratitude journal along side of them.
- Apologize to your child when you are in the wrong.
- Let them know that mistakes are okay.
- Start practicing gratitude every day as a family.
- Teach them phrases to hep express feelings. Use words such as sad, frustrated, worried, angry etc.
- Remove 'don't' from your language. Rachel Tomlinson said it best in her book "Teaching Kids to be Kind."
- "Using this word too often can be quite negative, as it leaves children feeling like they are already in trouble before they have done anything wrong when actually we only want to give a warning or set a boundary. " Rachel Tomlinson
- Write 'kindness notes' for everyone one in your family. Involve your child in writing down a compliment for everyone and then have them decorate the card.
- Create 'hug' coupons. These are great to show compassion and kindness to those in your immediate family. Anyone can use a hug coupon to get a hug at anytime.
- Notice opportunities to help you neighbors and then get your child involved in helping too.
- Write down things that you love about your child. When they need an extra boost of confidence or love, give them the note.
Walking in the Kindness of Jesus
We've covered a lot of ground in this post haven't we? From the acknowledgement that kindness changes everything, to a discussion about biblical kindness, over to the kindness of Jesus, and finally landing on teaching kids to be kind. Goodness, this was a lot!
Kindness can truly change your life, let's start a revolution of kindness! What other kindness practices do you do with your family?