“If you could be anything in the world, be kind.” I’ve seen it on bumper stickers, t-shirts, and webpages. It’s a pretty sad commentary on the state of our country (and most of the world) that we need that much of a reminder to do something that God told us to do 2,000 years ago.
In 2 Peter 1:4-7, Peter writes
4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
Paul echoes a similar sentiment in Colossians 3:12-13:
12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone;
And kindness is also mentioned in the fruits of the Sprit Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Interestingly enough, the Greek word literally means “useful” and figuratively means “moral excellence.” In other words, kindness is more than a smile and a pat on the head. It involves rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty, not because we’re getting something out of it, but because that’s what God would do in the same situation. It means we’re literally making the world a better place in which to live, even if it’s just our little corner of it. It offers freedom to someone, even if just for a moment, from the confines of a situation they might not be able to even see out of otherwise.
Author David Foster Wallace put it this way. “The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little ways, every day.”