Kindness is one of those things everyone admires in other people. My mother used to say, “It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.” The reality, is that kindness is very rare in our world. People are self seeking and self centered. They spend their time and efforts pursuing what benefits themselves. In short, people tend to be selfish.
Doing someone a kindness means extending yourself to help out someone else. Often times, we help people, or “do them a favor,” because down the road it may benefit us. When you do something nice for someone, we feel like they owe us, because we did something for them. If they don’t come through, we feel like they cheated us. Doing this type of kindness is hollow, and related to the self-centeredness I mentioned earlier.
The type of kindness I speak of, is what is mentioned in Scripture. It talks about giving to the poor, the orphan, and the widow; in other words, people who could never possibly pay us back. We can do this with money, or with time. We can also do it with attitude. There is nothing worse than someone helping you, and then being condescending about it. I’d rather do without than receive help from such people.
When we help the poor in Eastern Europe, the one rule of thumb, is to never leave people feeling beholding to you. When I give money to people we’ve visited, I pull them aside, and speak with them in Yiddish so no one standing around will understand us. I tell them the money I give them is not mine (so they don’t feel beholding to me). I tell them its from friends in America, which is true. I slip it from my hand to theirs, without anyone seeing, so they shouldn’t feel embarrassed about having to receive charity. They hug me and are grateful.
In a similar way, treating people with kindness means considering their feelings, even at the expense of our own. Is being seen as “right” really so important? Is it worth it at the expense of others? I don’t need people to say I’m right. I don’t need them to speak well of me. I’d rather people say I was kind to them.
Its easy to be kind to people we are fond of. People who thing we are great are the kind of people we like to be nice to. Its like one hand washes the other. The difficult thing is to be kind to people whom we feel really don’t deserve it. There are times I have been nice to people who turned around and treated me badly. They proved the adage, “no good deed goes unpunished.”Yet, these are the very ones we need to continue to be kind to. Yeshua said in Matthew 5:46, “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Kindness is not simply an attitude, or a smile, although it can be as simple as that. Kindness is the way we treat people; not just the loveable, but the not so loveable. When you come to a party or gathering, and you see someone sitting by themselves, its a kindness to go up to them and introduce yourself, sit with them, and try to make them feel welcome. When someone is upset, you don’t have to take their side, but you can listen to them, and offer words of comfort. When someone is hurting and you don’t know what to say, just sit there with them. Being there matters.
Forgive people who have wronged you. Its an act of kindness. Its easier said than done, but in the long run you will be better for it, and it may change them. Even if it does nothing to change them or the situation, it can transform you.
I am around selfish people every day. I am also around kind people every day. They are the same people. We have incredible potential. We need to choose what kind of person we are going to be in each situation.