No one expected my professor to get punched in the face that day as I demonstrated the basics of cross stitch in front of the class. Obviously, I was standing too close to her when I pulled my yarn in and out of a hole-punched card, and my hand took a jab at her nose.
Her reaction was an unforgettable gift in the midst of a stressful situation. During the initial minutes of shock and surprise– with everyone watching– she demonstrated a depth of kindness and restraint many of us only hope to achieve during a lifetime of trying.
She kindly suggested I take a few steps away to begin again. She kindly thanked me when I finished. And she kindly didn’t fail me when grades posted.
The lesson I learned about kindness in that classroom has lasted a lifetime and re-educated me during some of my hardest trials.
When we’re hit with the unexpected, the best reaction is a kind reaction.
As believers, we’re empowered by the Holy Spirit within to fight (and win) any attack of the enemy. Instead of succumbing to our natural instinct to return a jab for a jab, the Spirit ensures a reality of bearing the fruit of kindness.
Whatever may strike us on any given day, the way we respond is our choice to make.
Why not respond with kindness?
When our children betray us and our relationships crumble: kindness
When anger and hostility are regular servings at the dinner table: kindness.
When drugs and alcohol lurk in hidden corners of their rooms: kindness.
When hateful, hurtful words spill from their hearts and mouths without a filter: kindness.
When backs turn and doors slam: kindness.
When eyes roll and heavy sighs escape: kindness.
When unemployment is preferable to job seeking: kindness.
When failing without trying is evident: kindness.
Responding with kindness isn’t just possible with God, it’s also honoring to Him and beneficial to us. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus’ teachings address our struggle with kindness in the midst of difficulty. Jesus challenged an old belief system of revenge: whatever someone did to you, do it right back.
But Christ reveals a new way to handle our hurts and disappointments. He wants us to treat our enemies (and loved ones) with grace and kindness: “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” (Matthew 5:40-41, NIV)
Expressing godly kindness to others is a good way to experience hope when things feel hopeless. As usual, Christ’s teachings have a way of turning the tables on popular beliefs. His wisdom promises us that we are the ones who benefit from showing kindness to others.
Through kind responses, we acquire an immeasurable depth of self-control when we refuse to hurt those who have hurt us. We rise to a new level of inner strength when we walk through the rushing waters of suffering without retaliation. And we fill with courage when we overcome the pain of rejection without seeking revenge.
I admit my frequent failure to respond in kindness when slapped with the unexpected, unpleasant, and unwanted hands life has dealt me. But God’s word on kindness revives our hearts when we feel knocked down by life’s punches.
Scripture reminds us that kindness is a gateway to respect, repentance, and redemption.
In Gen. 19:19, God’s kindness to Lot saved his life.
In Gen. 39:21, God’s kindness to Joseph eased his suffering in prison.
In Ruth 2:20 & 3:10, God’s kindness to a widow and her daughter-in-law showered them with great favor.
In 1 Samuel 15:6, the kindness of one nation to another thwarted a battle.
In Rom. 2:4, God intends to lead others to repentance through His kindness.
In, Eph. 2:7, God reveals His grace through His kindness.
Repeatedly, we read how kindness reciprocates kindness. It compounds daily through an ongoing person-to-person payment system based on remembering how one was treated in the past. The failure of a person, family, or nation to extend kindness leads to moral and spiritual bankruptcy and the harsh consequences of violence, hatred, and death.
It was true in Biblical days, my college days, and in our current day. Being kind reaps bountiful rewards with family, friends, and strangers. It carries a lot of weight in our society and flows from its ancient origin in the kind heart of God who draws humanity to Himself through His acts of kindness.
While we wait, the kindness we extend to our loved ones will be the door they remember — and search for — when they are ready to exit the exhaustion they endure from the punches, battles, and knock-outs that the world throws their way.
And while we fight the good fight of faith, let’s punch revenge in the face, kick anger to the curb, and raise a banner of kindness over the battlefield of our hearts.
Waiting with you,