The Power of Kindness
If we let it, kindness will be a part of what saves us from the divisions that have become cemented in how we coexist, from the sting when we talk about what grieves us, and from the pride of our postures online and across tables as we advocate for that which we believe in so strongly. Kindness will be able to undo the damage we’ve done because it’s the secret weapon for detecting the intrinsic worth found in every person.
But in order to see the power of kindness on display, we’ll always have to sacrifice something, whether it is time or impatience or the dominance of our own opinions. It takes a brave person to come out of hiding, to come off a Twitter feed or Instagram live video and sit in the flesh with another human being who was crafted with intentionality and great love, injected with the imago Dei, the image of God himself. It takes bravery to look someone in the eye, choosing to believe that person is worthy and choosing to be changed by intentionally engaging both kindly and respectfully with one whom the Creator called “very good” (Genesis 1:31, NIV).
In its original Greek the word chrēstos, which we translate kind, means “useful toward others,” “good-natured,” and “gentle.” Jesus used the same word in the gospel of Luke when he spoke these words to his disciples and the multitude: “Love your enemies! Do good to them… For [God] is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked” (Luke 6:35, NLT, emphasis added). Loving an enemy? Super hard. I’d argue that it’s harder than debating that same enemy on social media or gossiping about him in the break room. But Jesus commanded it because he did it first.
Extending kindness is a lot harder—and a lot more powerful—than we give it credit for. Kindness does more than facilitate easy pleasantries or cordiality. It melts swords in the arena. It helps us see beyond mere words to our hearts and shows us, truly, how suffering has shaped us and taught us to treat one another. It gives us hope and catalyzes healing between parents and children, neighbors, and nations.
Kindness may not be loud or demanding, but given enough time, it wins.
Why is it brave to be kind? How does kindness free us to see others as made in God’s image?