Kindness is beautiful. I’m struck every time I see it. People with kind faces are especially attractive. Gentle gestures, sympathetic smiles, knowing eyes, knees bent to help and soft words make me stop and watch. I marvel and often wonder what grew inside that person to make such a wonderful fruit.
Do you notice kindness? I used to be too busy to pay much attention – had to get stuff done. Now, it’s worth the time to stop and take it in. It’s like absorbing the detailed beauty of an intricate flower or lingering over a long, multi-hued sunset. It fills me up somehow. It opens my heart.
Relationships need kindness. Since I speak primarily to challenge disconnected men and give hope to women who love them, I want to reach out to both with this post. Are you kind? I mean, as a habit, are you kind? Or are you busy being something else so that kindness takes a back seat?
Let’s assume you are generally kind. By that I mean, you are not nasty and hard to get along with most of the time. That’s good. By the way: If you are not kind – stop making excuses for your insistence on someone else doing what they are supposed to do – so you can feel like being kind. (I say this because I think it’s one of the key reasons people use to justify their lack of kindness) “If they would just do so and so, I would be a little more likely to be kind.” Kindness shouldn’t wait on our mood. [clickToTweet tweet=”Kindness shouldn’t wait on our mood.” quote=”Kindness shouldn’t wait on your mood.”]
Back to assuming you are generally kind. Check yourself on this. When you show kindness, are you expecting anything? Maybe kindness in return, a thank you, sex, praise for your generosity, the person to get off your back about something, a complement, or anything else? Why do you expect something in return: Because responding positively is the right thing to do? It’s proper and good manners? Because you needed their response to fill some need you had? Kindness is not meant to meet your need. [clickToTweet tweet=”Kindness is not meant to meet ‘your’ need.” quote=”Kindness is not meant to meet your need.”]
If you are showing kindness in order to meet an unfilled need of yours, it’s not really kindness. It’s a manipulative tactic to get what you want. It’s the worst kind of lie. If you need something from someone, ask for it. Don’t use kindness as the first phase of a passive-aggressive strategy.
I want to challenge you to elevate kindness to the position it should occupy. Remember the bumper sticker slogan that invited us to do ‘random acts of kindness’? I want to challenge you to do purposeful, planned out, overt, super generous acts of kindness without regard to the response you get. True kindness simply acts and doesn’t think about anything but blessing the other person.
If we were able to ‘zoom out’ of our reality and get a ‘soul’s eye view’ of what kindness accomplishes in the hearts of those who receive it, I think the phrase ‘regardless of response’ would be easier. But our vision is often clouded by what we need to get out of the interaction. If we can work on changing our focus, our acts of kindness will be much more powerful!
For example, when Jesus met the young man who has become known as ‘the rich young ruler’ to many who have retold the story (Matthew 19:16-30), He knew what the outcome of the meeting would be. But that didn’t keep him from showing kindness and answering his questions.
The young man was asking questions trying to justify himself. (Ever had anyone do that to you?) He asked, What can I do to get eternal life? What a great question – doesn’t everyone want to know the answer to that one! Jesus answered him, I think more to test him than give him a checklist of items he could do, ‘keep the commandments’. The young man eagerly replied, ‘Ok, which ones?’ He’s starting to sound like a student that keeps asking about class requirements to get a good grade – hoping to discover the least amount of work that he can skate by with. Jesus kindly answered him with a list of the commandments. The young man was jazzed about the answer – ‘Cool, I’ve been doing all those since I was a kid’ was his reply. So he’s expecting Jesus to give him an ‘A’ in life and move on.
Instead, Jesus pulls out the final exam. ‘Great, glad you’ve passed all the quizzes. Now, go sell everything you have and come follow me.’ Full STOP. Imagine this pivot point in your life. You are face to face with God, your Creator, your Sustainer. He who holds your next heartbeat in His hand. And He kindly offers you a trade. Trade all the baubles and beads and fineries of life and walk with the man who can fill every atom of your being to overflowing. Follow me and have your every real need met. What do you do?
The young man suddenly realized how hard final exams can be. He didn’t even show up for class. He dropped out then and there, sad that the test was too hard.
It’s a shame that the young man had too much to lose to accept what Jesus offered. But it’s a great lesson from Jesus on showing kindness – regardless the response. He took the time even though He knew things wouldn’t go well.
How often do we look at a situation where kindness has an opportunity to shine and avoid it because we think we know what the response will be? Think of the last time you approached ___________ and she responded negatively to your efforts. What about all those times you went out of your way to bless ____________ and he didn’t even notice? It’s thoughts like these we have to battle against. These thoughts stop kindness in it’s tracks. If we can beat them, we can be kind with no expectations. The response won’t matter to us. What matters is that we were kind – nothing more, nothing less. Kindness is it’s own reward.
Here’s how I’m planning on applying this. I’m going to take every opportunity to be kind to the people around me while tamping down the ‘what if’ thoughts that tend to creep in. I have determined to have no expectations attached to kindness. [clickToTweet tweet=”I have determined to have no expectations attached to kindness.” quote=”I have determined to have no expectations attached to kindness.”] I am going to ask the Spirit to nudge me when I become selfish with kindness. I’m also going to ask for supernatural power to be a man who shows unrestrained kindness. Maybe I can make the world around me a better place. I at least want to make the lives around me richer, more filled with love, and blessed by kindness if I can. I hope you’ll join me.