The Power of Kindness

Discover the double blessing that comes from being kind.

By Elizabeth Peale Allen, Pawling, New York

Who are the kindest people you know? Isn’t being in their presence like sitting in sunshine? Kind people make you glad to be alive; they help you see beyond the fog of worry or discontent. “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up” (Proverbs 12:25).

Jesus’ commandment to us to “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34) was an instruction to be kind, always and to everyone. Our Lord exemplified kindness–healing the sick, pouring Himself out for the crowds who gathered to touch Him or hear Him. He was human; it must have been exhausting.

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Yet, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). He replenished His strength with prayer and solitude. We can do the same.

What does living a life of kindness mean?  It means curbing our impulse to speak sharply. It means praying every day: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). If a harsh word escapes us in a moment of stress, kindness motivates us to make a sincere apology.

It means telling the hard but necessary truth in a way that builds the recipient up, rather than tears her down. (Jesus could call the Pharisees “brood of vipers” and “hypocrites” because He was God and had the Godlike right to judge, but we must not presume to have such power. We will often be totally wrong in our assessment.) We are to live our lives being “kindly affectionate to one another” (Romans 12:10).

Sometimes kindness means shading the stark truth: “You’re looking so much better” to a friend going through a hard time and showing it. “I believe in you completely” to someone you care about who is struggling to get his footing in life or on the job. In this way we help to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Kindness means refraining from complaining or gossiping, letting the other driver go first, putting your cart into the cart corral at the grocery store rather than leaving it in the next parking space. It means sending a note or card, making a hospital visit, bringing a meal to a shut-in.

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It means giving to the needy a substantial part of what we are blessed to have. It means being patient with those who try that patience. And it means forgiving, with no strings attached. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”(Ephesians 4:32).

True kindness means being gentle in our inner, private thoughts–catching ourselves forming critical, negative judgments and nipping them in the bud. A surefire way to do that is to turn a negative thought into a prayer for that person. The Apostle James encourages us, as Christian brothers and sisters, to “pray for one another” (James 5:16).

The best thing about kindness is that it comes with a double blessing. The person who offers a kindness gets as much or more out of the deed as the recipient. Proverbs tells us, “Those who are kind benefit themselves” (11:17).

So make a conscious effort today to be kind to everyone you meet. It will make them–and you–feel better!