As followers of Jesus, one of our hallmarks is to show kindness and compassion to everyone we meet. Jesus modeled this beautifully when He was here on earth. He had compassion on the weak, the sick and the criminal. He showed kindness to the poor, the outcast, and the foreigner. Ephesians 4:32 tells us we should be kind, compassionate, and forgiving of one another. In Colossians 3:12-13 we read that not only are we to show kindness and compassion to each other, but also to be gentle, humble and accepting. Living life in such a manner would be a beautiful reflection of God. We want to live a life that looks like Jesus, so why is it so hard to behave in this way?
Forgiveness is always difficult. Our reaction to being hurt, whether emotionally or physically, seems to always be to respond in kind. It takes great discipline and maturity to restrain from lashing out. Above all, it takes great love to react appropriately. Unless we truly love others, we will never be able to successfully and consistently forgive them. Love is the key and the enabler of forgiveness. Further on in Ephesians (chapter 5, verse 2), we are instructed to walk in love, just as Jesus walked in love. Jesus loved us so much that He sacrificed everything He was for each one of us. This is true beauty. Without love, everything else is useless (see I Corinthians 13). Without love we cannot clearly demonstrate kindness and compassion; you can’t fake these things. When you offer a helping hand to someone, if it’s not genuine, it will more than likely be dismissed. No one wants to be condescended to and few will want your pity. Genuine kindness, however, is a rare and beautiful thing with almost universal acceptance.
What can you do today to demonstrate kindness to someone else? Ask the Lord to burn compassion deep into your heart, so that you may see others as He sees them. As Bob Pierce prayed years ago, beg God to break your heart with the things that break His. When your heart is broken by what you see, don’t weep and pass by; don’t simply become angry at the injustice that surrounds you. Rather, compassionately embrace the hurt that is front of you. Offer and employ genuine assistance out of pure kindness. Do the thing that Jesus would do; touch the untouchable, hug someone who smells of life on the street, and care for the needs of someone less fortunate than you.
Becoming angry at injustice is a good thing if the response is genuine and winsome. We mustn’t respond to injustice with hate, but rather with love. Compassion does not need to be a passive word. Compassion mixed with zeal can rescue children from the horrors of trafficking and can feed hungry refugees displaced from their homes by natural disaster or national genocide. Kindness and compassion require the active verb of love before they can be fully engaged. Without love, our actions are worthless. Without action, our love is hollow and disingenuous.
A simple smile, a small gesture or an out of the blue compliment can do wonders for the outlook of another. In a world filled with pain and sorrow, a little kindness will go a long way. Never become too busy to notice the needs of those around you. Never become so self-absorbed that you become blind to those in need to whom you can show compassion. Discipline yourself to never let an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus pass you by. They will know we are Christians by our love. Love is activated by our kindness and compassion toward others. Make certain you find someone to love today.