Just the other day, as I walked into a bookstore with my wife, she pointed out a book on display entitled How to be Kind. No, she wasn’t giving me a hint (at least, I don’t think so), and I didn’t pick it up to see what the author came up with. But days later, I’m still curious. What did he or she have to say to the rest of us? What made them decide that such a book was necessary? Was it written to all the people in their life that were unkind over the years? Had they learned a secret you or I don’t know about about how to really be kind, as if we were missing the target? Or was it simply a book of ideas, for that person out on a mission to be kind to others? And I wonder how many How to be Kind books have sold? I can tell you it wasn’t on the best seller’s shelf…which tells me something. In large part, people may not be looking for ways to be kind. On their list of things-to-do today, “be kind” probably didn’t make it. On my own list of things-to-do today, the same is true—writing about kindness was; being kind was not. Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re unkind folks, but it does highlight the inherent intentionality behind kindness.
Did your parents ever tell you, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? I suppose that might be a temporary fix to withholding damaging words or actions, but it doesn’t teach us long-term to be intentionally kind. Indeed, silence may be an example of kindness at times, but if love is an action, and it is, then silence may not fit most contexts. In Scripture, we are told to be kind (2 Tim. 2:24), put it on (Col. 3:12), and have our heart reflect it (1 Peter 3:8) because it appeared to us (Titus 3:4) and because we have tasted it (1 Peter 2:3). The backdrop to these exhortations? Fights and arguments, hate, religious differences, lying, and complaining. Against those we are told to reflect the kindness of Christ. Long ago and still today, kindness is on God’s list of things-to-do today, for He knows it will change us from the inside out. Consider adding “be kind” to your list today and watch God change the people around you.