The next few articles will explore some of the attributes of God and how those attributes are to be reflected in God’s people. The first we will discuss is kindness.
One might not first think of kindness as an attribute of God. Powerful, mighty, holy—yes—but kind? Yet kindness is one of our God’s attributes. The word translated “kindness” in the Bible is sometimes translated as “goodness,” which gives us a little more understanding into the term. This is an attribute that sets God apart from the other gods of other faith systems.
Psalm 145:9 states that “the Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” One writer calls this “common grace.” God is good, offers kindness, to all of creation, even when we are ungrateful and sometimes wicked. As Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35).
What is true about God’s kindness to us, that he is kind or good to us even when we are not kind or good to Him can be seen in many areas of life. Even when we feel as if our lives aren’t going the way we hope they will, the kindness of God is evidenced in the things that don’t happen, in the protection we received in the midst of busy-ness: the car that misses us, the “lucky” moments that just work out, etc.
Finally, God’s kindness is shown in salvation, a free gift given to us through the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus.
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. (Ephesians 2:6-7).
You see, the tendency of the human spirit is on of pride, selfishness, and self-will, and in those attributes we had insulted God. Yet God planned, from the beginning, for our salvation, for our redemption, by sending His Son, Jesus, to pay for our debt. It was a free gift and cannot be purchased. God was kind to us.
Because we are God’s children, having received that free gift of salvation from God, we are called to become like God. We won’t become gods, but we are to reflect that godliness in our lives, showing the transformation that is occurring in us.
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
This isn’t automatic, any less than transformation is automatic. While God reaches out to us and makes us a new creation spiritually, the process of becoming like God is a long and arduous one, and it is made step by step as we choose to exhibit God’s attributes in our lives.
Jesus said, But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13). You see, kindness to others is most just action, doing kind things, it is a mindset, a way of thinking that controls and guides our actions.
We’ve all gone through the motions when dealing with someone we really don’t like or who gets on our nerves. But godly kindness is so much more than that. When we are exhibiting kindness to others, it means we are actually looking at them the way God is looking at them. We are having mercy on them even when they don’t deserve it.
One more caveat: Don’t think you can do this on your own! It is impossible for the human being to be kind all the time, for human imitation of God’s kindness naturally. This is a process that occurs as you allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart and to dwell within you. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23). It is through the working of the Spirit in our lives that we learn to be kind and that kindness becomes a habit that we exhibit regularly.
What acts of kindness have you done recently? Is there someone in your life who doesn’t deserve your kindness or help, and yet they need it? Perhaps a coworker, a family member, or a neighbor routinely frustrates you. This is the true ground of the random act of godliness—reaching out to those who don’t deserve our kindness, just as God reached out to us when we were ignoring God.
As you go through your day today, consider God’s kindness to you and how you can reflect that kindness to others in your life.