To practice kindness in our daily lives means to show generosity and consideration to ourselves and to those around us. The kindness of Jesus was unlike anything ever seen.
While it's a basic concept that, for many of us, was taught during our formative years, the act of regularly showing kindness to those around us can be a challenge. Sure, it is easy to be kind to the people we love - our family and friends whom we keep close. We want to see them prosper and thrive, so we are willing to do whatever it takes to show them the honesty of our hearts. Demonstrating kindness to those individuals who are further removed from our everyday lives or to whom we harbor negative feelings is much more difficult.
We know that the Word of God calls us to be kind to everyone we meet, whether we perceive them to be friend or foe, because in His eyes, we are all brothers and sisters, bound to one another and to Him with the very fiber of our beings.
But really, does that knowledge make it any easier to show kindness to the coworker who let the coffee pot overflow without cleaning up the river of caffeine-based fuel that is now dripping onto our shoes or to the soccer mom who seems to always have her life (and her appearance) together as she beams with pride about the homemade cookies that her child has brought to practice while our own little one clutches a store bought package of Oreos? Often, it won't. And that's okay.
What matters is knowing that while we will definitely have our moments of inadequacy in kindness department, our God still loves us, and still embraces us, whispering in our ear to turn our hearts to Him, open them with grace, and celebrate the good that will flow out of them if only we allow Him to intervene.
Jesus, as our brother in Christ and the ultimate role model of earthly kindness, practiced this virtue in strong measure. The narrative of the gospels gives many accounts of the kindness of Jesus toward others, serving as a guide for how we are to demonstrate the compassion of God to others. In the times when our capacity for kindness seems diminished, we do not need to look any further than our bibles for reminders of how Jesus used His life as a fulfillment of the mission of kindness commissioned from above:
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JESUS HEALED WITHOUT JUDGMENT
A large part of Jesus's mission was to become the physical healing hands of God and the accounts of His miraculous healings of those who believed are numerous. When Jesus healed, He did not do so for His own benefit, but rather, to extend kindness to others:
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cleaned of his leprosy.
- Matthew 8:1-3 NIV
The many individuals who were healed by the hand of Jesus were not those who knew Him personally or with whom He spent much of His time. But rather than allowing their lack of acquaintance to cloud His judgment of their need, He healed them all without question. In biblical times, those individuals struggling with physical or mental disease were ostracized, cast aside, and ignored by their society, but Jesus saw them, with kind eyes, and made them well.
JESUS PROVIDED NOURISHMENT
We often think of the Word as spiritual food, nourishing our hearts and our souls as we grow and connect with God. But in Jesus's time, part of His mission required Him to actually provide physical food to His followers:
Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way"
- Matthew 15:32
Following Jesus was indeed a choice, and one that many people in His time made freely. Those who had gathered to listen to Him teach were there because of the desire of their hearts to hear from Him. He was not required to care for their personal needs like being well fed but was moved with compassion because He understood their longing to connect with the Father. By providing nourishment for their bodies, Jesus also fed their spirits, giving them the energy, they needed to hear His words with open ears and modeled perfect kindness that His followers would then be encouraged to follow.
JESUS CARED FOR OUTCASTS
While many in His time ignored the plight of individuals such as tax collectors because of their perceived unsavory practices, Jesus not only welcomed, but also embraced all those who were sinners into the promise of His teaching. Jesus came to call sinners to Himself, to save them by the power of His grace, and to love them just the same as those whose lives had been more upstanding. No story of the gospel narratives illustrates this point better than that of Zacchaeus:
"When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today'" (Luke 19:5).
Zacchaeus was a well-known sinner, and no one in his community would be willing to allow him entrance into their homes. But upon Jesus's arrival, He not only extends His kindness in the form of acknowledging Zacchaeus's presence in welcoming Him but assigns him the important task of preparing a place for the Lord to stay. The kindness of Jesus overlooks sin - He does not acquiesce to the presence of sin in our lives, but rather, sees our indiscretions through a lens of love, ready to forgive us in our repentance and guide our minds to things that are far greater than our mere presence. Isn't the kindness of Jesus incredible?
JESUS TAUGHT ALL THAT WOULD HEAR HIM
There was no one who was turned away from hearing the message of Jesus, despite who they were, where they came from, and what they prior beliefs had been. Think about how rare it is in our contemporary age to find such an event - when was the last time that you were able to listen to someone speak without having to pay an admission fee or belonging to a specific group of individuals who were the preferred audience? It is a rare occurrence, which is what made the teachings and kindness of Jesus so special:
"When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began to teach them many things" (Mark 6:34).
While Jesus knew that not everyone who heard His message would believe in the promise of His Word, He continued to preach and teach to all who were interested in listening. Sometimes the kindness of Jesus is speaking out when it would be easier to stay silent.
I would imagine that this ministry became quite taxing for Christ, and I'm sure he regularly tired of interacting with others, but He continued to do so, without reservation, because He knew of the importance of what He taught. His kindness in sharing His Word with followers far and wide obtained for Him the first Christians, committed to the practice of His teaching in order to flourish in their relationship with the Father.
Did you know that Healing Home has a weekly devotional? Here is a short devotional on "Kindness when it's Tough."
JESUS PRAYED FOR ALL OF US
The prayers that Jesus made to God on behalf of those who followed Him and believed are still protecting us today. Despite the fact that you and I never had the chance to meet or hear Jesus in this life, He loves us, cares for us, and has embraced us with His prayers. The kindness of Jesus surpasses our greatest imagination.
He appealed to the Father for all of us when He said;
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
The kindness of Jesus lives on into our modern world through we who believe. Each time we show kindness to others, we are living out Jesus's mission to love God and love others. Let us continue to live out that purpose on behalf of the Father, and of the Son, and of ourselves as we pray for those around us that we all might know the loving embrace of our God and use our knowledge of the teachings of Jesus to grow the Kingdom.
THE KINDNESS OF JESUS CHALLENGE
Today, I challenge you to show the kindness of Jesus in one of the ways that Jesus demonstrated:
- If you have the means, financially support an organization that is working to bring healing to those who are struggling with physical or mental illness.
- Buy some extra groceries and donate them to your local food bank or volunteer to serve a meal to the under privileged at your local soup kitchen.
- Smile at a stranger who looks like they may need a little pick-me-up.
- Share your testimony of the love of Christ by volunteering to teach Sunday school or start a bible study group where you can make the message of Jesus come alive for others.
- Pray for all believers, both those you know and those you do not know. We can all use prayers and support from others in our faith community, so spend some time in prayerful contemplation of all of God's children, asking Him to guide us all to where we need to be through the power of His loving hand.
A Little Bit More About Rebecca
Rebecca Flasz is an avid traveler, dream seeker, teacher, and lifestyle writer living and loving life between the mountains and the beach. In addition, she is a passionate free spirit who enjoys a good cup of tea, spending time with family, and being outdoors. She believes in sharing Christ with others through messages of love, kindness, and worth. You can read more of Rebecca's writing on her blog Sagebrush and Salt, or connect with her on Instagram or Pinterest.