Well...Kind Of...

My mom had a little song that used to drive me crazy! She would launch into it when she heard my brother, sister, and me fighting in the backseat on the way home from church.

"Be ye kind...be ye kind...one to another..."

She'd just wail away until we stopped whatever fracas we were causing and focused our energy on glaring at the back of her head. The song may not have accomplished what she was aiming for, but it did serve to unite us in common hatred for the song.

On occasion, I've been known to start that song when my own kids are acting up. They hate it just as much as I did and I'm sure my mom is laughing with me from heaven.

So what is kindness? We know it is the fifth fruit of the Spirit and as we've learned, the fruit of the Spirit does not come naturally to us. That's why it's a supernatural gift and one God expects us to exercise if we claim him as our Father.

The song is actually a verse straight from Ephesians chapter 4. "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you."

Notice the words coupled with kindness are tenderhearted and forgiving. Kindness thinks about the other person rather than itself. Kindness jumps right into the other guy's head and sees a situation through his eyes, responding accordingly.

Most of us are too preoccupied with trying to get others to see things through OUR eyes. Our natural inclination is to ACT like we're kind when someone is watching so that they'll appreciate how nice we are. 

But God's kindness is real. God's kindness is like that all the time, when nobody's looking, when it goes against our natural instinct. Kindness restrains our tongue when we'd rather pop off. When a witty barb would get us a laugh. When pointing out someone's deficiency would make us look smarter.

A constant barrage of information hurls itself at our conscience, most of which we cannot possibly respond to. We respond by hardening ourselves so that we no longer see the starving children photos. We easily ignore the never-ending pleas for money from every corner. We can pass a crying child without a second thought, assuming someone else will take care of it.

We're not mean, just immune.
Kindness insists we take the blinders off, take the cotton out of our ears, and respond whenever it's within our power to do something. That's why kindness is a quality we can only exercise effectively when we're doing it in God's strength.

Naturally...we'd rather not. Naturally, we'd rather pick and choose when to be kind. And to whom we offer kindness.

How kind are you? 

If given the choice, would you rather offer a soft word of comfort or get a laugh? Do you always choose to push someone else into the limelight or do you take the attention for yourself? When irritation has driven you to your limits, do you respond in kindness to those nagging voices?

I know my answers to those questions. The more I learn of God, the more I realize that without him, I am have no capacity to be anything close to kind. That's why I need the Holy Spirit to be kind through me. 
Left to my own goodness, I'm only kind of...


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