Teaching Values: Kindness

by Jeff Asher

To be kind means "having or showing a tender, considerate and helping nature." Thus, one who is kind is friendly, generous, warmhearted, sympathetic, considerate, gentle, affectionate and forbearing. Synonyms for kind include: philanthropic, benevolent, tenderhearted, compassionate, gracious. In the Bible there are two Greek words translated as kind: CRESTOTE (Colossians 3:12) and PHILANTHROPIA (Acts 28:2). These words describe an attitude of heart that results in a specific character of action (Luke 6:35; Romans 2:4).

Kindness Is Essential

One is not walking before God as he ought if he does demonstrate kindness (or gentleness in the KJV). It is one trait which is characteristic of "the fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22). Its absence in our lives indicates we have yet to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts (v. 23). Kindness is an attribute of the new man raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1, 9-10). Kindness is acquired by the renewal of our minds through a knowledge of Christ in whose image we were created in regeneration (Colossians 3:12).

Furthermore, "kind" is not something that you just are. Kindness must be demonstrated or practiced. The worthy woman of Proverbs had the "law of kindness" in her mouth keeping her words in check (31:26). The men of Malta showed their kindness to the Apostle Paul (Acts 28:2). The servants of Christ prove themselves "by kindness" (II Corinthians 6:4-6). Solomon said: "That which makes a man to be desired is his kindness; and a poor man is better than a liar" (Proverbs 19:22). In other words, what counts is doing what you can, rather than saying what you would do." The Apostle John put it this way, "My little children let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth" (1 John 3:17-18). There isn't any kindness in the heart that says, "Be ye warmed and filled" but sends away the destitute with nothing (James 2:15-16).

Its Character

The key ingredient in kindness is love. Paul said that "love is kind" (I Corinthians 13:4). This must be true since love by definition must seek the good will of another. Kindness is the expression of that good will. This is true whether we speak of the kindness of God toward man (Titus 3:4) or that of man toward man (Romans 12:10; II Peter 1:7).

Kindness is always manifested without respect of persons. The Christian is not kind to some and not to others. He is certainly not kind on the basis of racial, social or ethnic considerations (James 2:1-9). We should show kindness in the same way in which the Father has shown His kindness toward us--to all men even the unthankful and evil (cf. Luke 6:35). When we withhold kindness from some men we become evil (James 2:4).

We can better understand the necessity of being kind to all men when we recognize that the grounds for showing kindness is grace or favor, rather than merit or worth. God did not show His kindness toward mankind on the grounds of the being particularly worthy of it; it was just the contrary (Titus 3:4-5). When did we ever merit the gift of God's son (Ephesians 2:7). We can perceive the kindness of God in all His actions toward mankind and through these we are drawn to Him (Romans 2:4; Acts 14:17). It is being kind as the Father is kind that we are truly his children (Matthew 5:44-45).

Kindness is not fickle, that is, on again off again. When we behave in that fashion, we are behaving as the hypocrites do (Luke 6:33-36). God again is the standard in this. His kindness is constant. It is the one thing on which men can always count (Isaiah 54:10). It is this assurance of the constancy of God's kindness that draws men to Him in repentance. Because we are unpredictable our relationships are hindered and even damaged (James 3:17), sometimes beyond repair (Luke 15:28; cf. I Timothy 5:1; I Corinthians 4:11-13).

Examples of Kindness:

Here is a list some of the many things which the Scriptures regard as exemplifying kindness. It is by no means an exhaustive list. However, it does help us broaden our perception of kindness and its importance.

One is kind when:

  1. he is honest in his dealings (Genesis 21:23)
  2. he rewards good received from another (Genesis 40:14)
  3. he is sympathetic and comforting (Job 6:14)
  4. he exhibits honorable behavior (Ruth 3:10)
  5. he shares another's burdens (1 Samuel 15:6)
  6. he shows friendship (1 Samuel 20:15, 16)
  7. he honors the dead (2 Samuel 2:5)
  8. he is merciful toward his enemies (2 Samuel 9:7)
  9. he demonstrates loyalty (2 Samuel 16:17)
  10. he shows gratitude (1 Kings 2:7)
  11. he has compassion (Jonah 4:2)
  12. he is benevolent (Luke 6:35)
  13. he is courteous (Acts 27:3)
  14. he is hospitable (Acts 28:2)
  15. he is forgiving (Ephesians 4:32)

How to Teach Kindness

As parents we recognize that the two greatest sources of influence on our children is their contact with family members and companions (I Corinthians 15:33). Children are prone to do what they see and live. If we are not kind in our dealings with our children, it should be no surprise if they learn to manifest a brutal spirit as adults. Likewise, if they are allowed to associate with peers who are known to be without compassion or proper regard for others that spirit will influence them (Proverbs 22:24-25).

Bible study is important in developing a kind heart in children (Colossians 3:10-12). The Bible is filled with stories and examples of kindness and these should be read to them from their youth and held before them as the standard of right behavior. By far the best example we have is the Lord Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:21-25) with whom we ought to become intimate respecting the His sinless life.

We learn to be kind by receiving kindness (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:38). The greatest kindness any of us has ever known is that of the Almighty through Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:3). In the difficult times in our relationships we must reflect on what we have received in order to properly judge what we should give (Ephesians 4:32). Young people need to be guided into a proper appreciation for the kindness of God that has appeared to us in order to be able to manifest a like kindness toward the world (Matthew 5:44-45).

And, as with anything, practice makes perfect, create for your family opportunities to practice the virtue of kindness (Romans 12:10-18). There are plenty of good works to be done (Titus 3:8, 14).