During our earlier Covid lockdowns, the public were directed by the Prime Minister and other government officials to “be kind”. Even more alarming, was the way that New Zealanders were treating one another, proving it was obviously necessary to ask people to “be kind”. People were unable to get what they wanted in a supermarket through the lack of kindness of other New Zealanders who had bought far beyond their needs. Supermarket workers were being abused for issues that were beyond their control. Unfortunately, they just happened to be the one that had to pass on the bad news of unavailability.
I have thought about this a lot, about how thin the veneer of civilisation and decency is if we can’t get what we want suddenly. Kindness would seem to be such a simple and universal trait that surely everybody knows how to do it. But do they? It occurred to me that if you as a child had not had an up bringing of kindness then it would be quite foreign to you. The amount of bullying in schools and in the workplace would seem to indicate that kindness is a learnt skill, that has to be modelled to our children. I have a granddaughter who is extraordinarily kind to her school mates, so much so that teachers comment. But kindness is all she has ever known in life, therefore she lives and acts out of that.
When I started to think about the New Testament, kindness is actually a Fruit of the Spirit as stated in Galatians 5:22. It’s not just desirable but necessary if we are to be fully rounded believers. Both Paul and Peter list kindness as a necessary witness to the activity of Christ in our lives; in Colossians 3:12-13 and 2 Peter 1:7 showing our development in the spirit. I think in its simplicity it’s to see beyond our own wants and needs, to those of others and act appropriately. What can we do to serve and help others?
Churches should be the kindest and friendliest places on the planet, but unfortunately that is not always the case. Churches can be places where all the traits of the world are still sadly present. Which is one reason why the world does not hear our voice saying that Jesus is the way. They see no real difference between our behaviour and their own. I find that incredibly sad. As followers of Christ, we are called in the Sermon on the Mount to display kindness through the turning the other cheek sequence in Matthew 5:38-42. If people came to church and saw this in action, I believe we would not have enough room to accommodate everyone who would want to be there.
I interpret Galatians 5:22 as this is the Fruit of the Spirit, this is the Holy Spirit in action, this is the perfume of God. If we men choose to be kind and lead by example preferring and serving others, we can change the environment around us, our families, our workplaces, our social clubs and yes, our churches. People may ask what is different about you? Then we can tell them about Jesus. It is simply called the “Law of Attraction.” Which is one of John Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” You might even like to try it, I am!