Kindness is listed among the fruit of God’s Spirit. Webster and Dictionary.com defines being kind as being sympathetic, helpful, considerate, and forbearing, or showing tolerance, among other qualities. Showing kindness goes a long way to make life a better experience. And in my own mind its use is a most powerful way of building bridges among people, and should especially be seen among God’s people.
Recently, the death of one of the brethren in the local church occurred who had endured several years of difficulty due to a stroke he suffered. Before he was a vibrant and gentle man, who spoke to God’s people on a regular basis, and with kindness taught about qualities God wants us to develop in our hearts and minds. It is something I will always remember about him. Now, it is a time when we in turn can show the sympathy described as kindness to his wife and family, a gift to help lift them up.
Being generous is another way to show kindness. It lifts the receiver, and at the same time the giver. Have you ever received an unexpected gift from someone? A gift that makes you think of the giver every time you think of it, see it or wear it? It might have been the gift of a kind word, or appreciation. What a warm feeling it brings to reminisce about the kindness of a person who thought of you in a special way by giving you something. Doesn't it endear you to that person with a new connection rekindled by their generosity? Doesn't it soften your spirit toward them, if, as sometimes happens, it may be a gift to bring reconciliation and peace between you. That is the time to accept it graciously, be glad to rekindle the relationship with the giver, and let go of grievances.
Another quality to emphasize in the definition of kindness is the ability of showing tolerance. Ah, tolerance. That quality, which when received, makes us thankful that someone has had the kindness to overlook a slight, or let a harsh word spoken in haste go by, rather than make a charge against us.
If we know the experience of receiving tolerance, then we should offer that gift to others as well. And the greatest expression of tolerance for us all was shown through Jesus Christ in the gift of His life for us. “He laid down His life for us, we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16-18). And when we have the chance to give it to someone who may have hurt us in some way, we can lighten our heart, and hopefully theirs by that gift, realizing a slight is often unintended during a time of fatigue or stress in our lives.
What happens in the outcome of the uses of kindness in our life and in the lives of others? Most likely we have been aware of times when a less than kind way of handling a situation has not turned out very well. It often ends with more angry words and animosity between people.
By practicing kindness, it builds the bridges that connect us to one another with fondness and affection. It brings peace and a solace to our spirit that comforts us. And, I believe, it brings satisfaction to God our Father, Who is judging our actions in this life. It can be a way which will prompt Him to say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. . . ” (Matthew 25:21, KJV).
The Feast of Tabernacles is coming up soon and is a perfect opportunity to contemplate ways we can show kindness to others. We can share a tolerant spirit. We can be generous, often more than other times of year. We can include others who may not have opportunities to fellowship at other times of the year. We can bring the joy of building bridges with our brethren by practicing kindness, both at home and at the various Feast sites we will be attending.
Let’s build bridges of kindness to connect to one another during this feast season and beyond.