There are subtle nuances in meanings between some words – take kindness, mercy and compassion for example. If someone sends you some flowers, it could mean they love you, they are sending condolences or they are appreciating you. This thoughtful act may have traces of mercy and compassion but it is primarily a friendly, generous and considerate action of kindness. Think back to when you last received some flowers or indeed sent some – what was the impact other than the giving or receiving of happiness? It is said that ‘what goes round comes round’ – if this is true, then there is a ‘kindness circle’ in life which is loved and respected the world over. Was Nellie Bly right when she said: ‘It is only after one is in trouble that one realizes how little sympathy and kindness there are in the world’? Surely ‘the milk of human kindness is more prevalent?
- ‘Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see’ – Mark Twain
- ‘For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone’ – Audrey Hepburn
- ‘You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- ‘That best portion of a man's life, his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love’ – William Wordsworth
- ‘No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted’ – Aesop
A small act of kindness shared can go a long way, far beyond that first envisaged by the giver. Edward Lorenz was a talented mathematician and meteorologist who came up with the concept of ‘The Butterfly Effect’ in 1969. This was part of ‘chaos theory’ that he introduced where he showed that the exact time of formation and path taken of a tornado was influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier! Imagine the next small act of kindness having some similar kind of effect!
- ‘Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you’ – Princess Diana
- ‘When you are young you take the kindness people show you as your right’ – W Somerset Maugham
- ‘A kindness received should be returned with a freer hand’ – Saint Ambrose
- ‘Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world’ – Annie Lennox
It was an act of kindness that originated in the heart of God which has been having a huge impact on the human race ever since. This kindness was full of grace, mercy, love and compassion – as the song from Reuben Morgan and Ben Fielding goes: ‘Everyone needs compassion, the kindness of a Saviour’. Any kindness that happens finds its origins in God.
- ‘I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us – yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses’ – Isaiah 63:7
- ‘I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek and I bent down to feed them’ – Hosea 11:4
- ‘Yet he has not left himself without testimony: he has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy’ – Acts 14:17
- ‘And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God’ – Ephesians 2:6-8
- ‘But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life’ – Titus 3:4-7
- ‘Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?’ – Romans 2:4
There are some ugly things in life – when kindness is either spurned or withheld, it is not a happy sight. Far from the giving and receiving of joy, such unkindness leads to disappointment, pain, loss and sorrow. Kindness should not only be given to those we like but also to those who haven’t earnt or necessarily ‘deserve’ it. Those who have received kindness should go on to show kindness. Why? It is an outward expression of the inward work of grace.
- ‘Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty’ – Job 6:14
- ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law’ – Galatians 5:22-23
- ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you’ – Colossians 3:11-13
In the contemporary scenario where there’s a busy Vicar travelling to an team meeting, a Theology Professor heading to deliver a lecture and a foreigner on his way for a job interview – which of them showed kindness to the man who had been mugged and beaten?
- ‘But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him,’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise’– Luke 10:33-37
The Priest and the Levite missed an opportunity which no doubt many of us have done. The Lord notices when we do and when we don’t.
- ‘Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and go to visit you?” ‘The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”’ – Matthew 25:37-40
- ‘Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it’ – Hebrews 13:2
Sometimes the opportunity for an act of kindness comes to you and other times you follow a prompting to create it. There are people out there who are waiting to be blessed by your smile, a kind word, an encouraging card, a quick text, a helpful action or perhaps even a bunch of flowers. Maybe your ‘butterfly wing’ action of kindness could launch a ‘tornado of love’ from some ‘kindness circle’ you start rolling today!
TAGS – thoughtfulness, caring, healing, blessing, community, outreach, mission