Kind­ness often gets thrown in with nice­ness, man­ners and eti­quette. But it’s alto­geth­er some­thing dif­fer­ent. Those things are of earth. Kind­ness is of heaven.

Kind­ness isn’t quaint. It’s not for image main­te­nance or keep­ing feath­ers unruf­fled. Kind­ness is love man­i­fest in action.

Kind­ness is in fact so insep­a­ra­ble from love that ear­ly Bible trans­la­tors coined a sin­gle term: lov­ingkind­ness. Because thy lov­ingkind­ness is bet­ter than life, my lips shall praise thee.” Love is patient. Love is kind.

Eti­quette is a clear set of rules. Kind­ness isn’t always so obvi­ous. It looks dif­fer­ent toward dif­fer­ent peo­ple at dif­fer­ent times.

To the hard-heart­ed reli­gious lead­ers Jesus said, Brood of vipers.” Kindness.

To the rich young ruler, Sell all you own.” Kindness.

To Peter, Get behind me, Satan.” Kindness.

It’s easy to rec­og­nize Jesus’ ten­der words and actions as kind. The moments men­tioned above can seem brash, almost mean. But we must see Jesus always speak­ing with the fire of pure love burn­ing in his eyes. He did noth­ing sim­ply to pro­voke, noth­ing from fear, noth­ing to prove any­thing, noth­ing out of wound­ed­ness. All was from an unshak­able aware­ness of His beloved­ness and for the eter­nal good of another.

So when we say God is the kind­est being in the uni­verse we don’t mean he’s a nice guy wav­ing off sin with a that’s okay, sweet­ie.” We mean that God is pure light who, if you’ll allow, will burn off any­thing that keeps you from being ful­ly alive. His kind­ness leads to repen­tance. That is, God’s good­ness turns us from habits that destroy toward Spir­it-filled habits that bring about joy.

I used to think it kind to pick up some­one else’s slack with­out a word. It turns out kind­ness is humbly engag­ing that some­one in a hard conversation. 

I used to think it kind to stuff down neg­a­tive emo­tions. But kind­ness is hon­est­ly fac­ing emo­tions, tak­ing them to God and even — espe­cial­ly for per­fec­tion­ists prone to sup­press­ing them — emot­ing to oth­ers who love you. In doing so you are hum­bled enough for heal­ing to come. 

And while kind­ness is a choice it isn’t meant to be forced. It’s fruit — fruit of the Spir­it — that grows in a heart root­ed in the love and accep­tance of God. So the choice is one of say­ing Yes to the Spir­it, not of strong-arm­ing one­self to be a good boy or good girl. And that Yes becomes ever more nat­ur­al for the one being formed into the image of Christ.

So let us set our inner pos­ture toward lis­ten­ing to Jesus who will show us the way of kind­ness, be it intu­itive or coun­ter­in­tu­itive. This morn­ing my invi­ta­tion from God to kind­ness was to be present to Mr. Clark, whose pres­ence was God’s kind­ness to me.


Bri­an recent­ly released a new ver­sion of his song Be Kind to One Anoth­er. Lis­ten below, get the sin­gle on iTunes or down­load a free chord chart.

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