My kids hear it from me all the time: “Kindness!” When they are interacting with others, I stress kindness. Do they listen? Not all the time. But when they do (and when I remember to practice it myself), their time together tends to be sweeter and more pleasant.
God has something important to say about kindness in Proverbs 3:3-4: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.”
He says that by being kind and truthful – and making it part of who you are in your every day living – you will find yourself in a place of favor both with God and with man. Who wouldn’t want to be a position to be favored by everyone, including God?
Consider this: If you consistently treat others with kindness and always speak the truth, what wrong can they hold against you? Nothing. That’s not to say accusations won’t ever come up against you. But any accusations hurled your way will fall away – they won’t be able to stand.
If you have watched the live action Cinderella movie that came out in 2015, you might have noticed a theme that Cinderella lived her life by: “Have courage and be kind.” In the movie, Cinderella made it a point to exercise kindness to everyone, both man and beast, despite the cruelty and maltreatment she endured from her step-family. It wasn’t easy for her. She frequently had to have courage and believe that her kindness wasn’t in vain. In the end, however, her kindness won out because it made her stand out from the rest and exposed the cruelty and lies presented by her step-family.
Just like in the movie, truth and kindness are undeniably important to us in the real world. And just like Cinderella, being consistently truthful and kind may sometimes require a great deal of courage. If you find yourself wondering if your efforts are even worth it, and if you question why you should bother being kind to others when it isn’t reciprocated, take heart that the heavenly Father understands your predicament.
He even goes on in Proverbs 3:5-6 to give a little encouragement: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do no lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
God knows that we won’t always understand why others don’t return our kindness, and He knows that it isn’t easy. So, He tells us that since He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (all places at all times), and omnipotent (all-powerful), we can trust Him to lead us in the right way. He will make our paths straight. We can lean on Him when we don’t think we have the strength or courage to keep on being kind or to speak the truth when it’s hard. He is, after all, God. The One and Only God.
We are finite beings. We have a beginning and an end, and we are bound by time. God isn’t either of those things. He is infinite, He is the Creator, and has never had nor will ever have a beginning or an end. He knows everything. He tells us this in Proverbs 3:7-8: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.”
It is sometimes easier to return ugly behavior and words to others when they are hurled our way, but God cautions us to consider the limitations of our wisdom. The fear He refers to in this passage isn’t that of being scared. It means reverence. Hold Him and His wisdom, instruction, and kindness in utmost respect and obedience. Doing so will be refreshing.
Most of us have experienced the miserable feeling that occurs when we are at odds with someone else. If we give in to ugly words and actions because we feel wronged, can it ever truly help us feel better? Nope. Returning a wrong for a wrong will always make us feel yucky.
So what is the take-away? Kindness, truthfulness, and trust in God’s infinite wisdom and understanding will lead to favor and good repute with God and man, and will refresh you by knowing that you have followed the golden rule: treating others as you would have them treat you.
Join me as I endeavor to practice kindness and truthfulness and teach my family to do so as well. Let’s change our communities for the better by having courage and being kind.