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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, February 25 2021

Kindness and a helping hand

Lack of kindness is epidemic. The apostle Paul accurately foretold a cold and hard-hearted world "in the last days" (2 Timothy 3:1-3).

by Don Hooser

Take a look at what, according to Scripture, accompanies true kindness: "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32, New International Version).

A large-scale study of school bullies concluded they do it because they enjoy it, illustrating how cruel human nature can be. Kindness must be learned, and many children are not taught it. Much of the violent media they are exposed to causes them to become desensitized and calloused toward the needs and feelings of others.

If we want God to be kind to us, we'd better be kind to others. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7). We should make it our goal and habit to be actively looking for opportunities to show kindness. People have many excuses to delay or avoid doing this: "I'm too busy." "The person deserves his suffering." "God is probably punishing him" (like Job's friends assumed wrongly in the book of Job).

The Greek word for "kind" is “chrestos”. Part of its meaning is ‘useful’, which makes it clear that biblical kindness involves action. "Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions" (1 John 3:18, New Living Translation). Action includes self-sacrifice and generosity on our part, especially of our time.

Our motive for "charitable deeds" should not be to impress people (Matthew 6:1-4). Genuine kindness is lending a helping hand when you expect nothing in return, and God's standard requires being kind to all.

In Galatians 5:19-21, the apostle Paul refers to human nature as "the flesh" and our natural tendencies as the "works of the flesh." These include hatred, jealousies, selfish ambitions and envy. Kindness is the opposite: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself..." (Philippians 2:3-4).

The Bible contains some wonderful examples of kindness: King David toward Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9), the Shunammite woman and her husband toward Elisha (2 Kings 4:8-10), Dorcas, who "was full of good works and charitable deeds" (Acts 9:36-39) and the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

To attain the high standards outlined in Scripture and modelled by Jesus Christ, our innate human nature must be replaced by God's nature, and that can only happen through the gift of God's Spirit with the attributes it produces: "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). The apostle Peter explained the Holy Spirit is generously given by God upon repentance: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38)

One of the most important Hebrew words in the Old Testament is ‘hesed’, which is used 240 times. It is often translated ‘mercy’, but the meaning also includes steadfast love and faithfulness. No single English word translates it adequately, partly because language is insufficient to describe this central quality of God's character. The Scriptures frequently praise the ‘hesed’ of God, and instruct us to have ‘hesed’ towards one another, as Christ demonstrated, often wearing Himself out praying for people, healing and feeding them, as well as helping them in other ways.

When Jesus looked on the multitudes of people with all their problems, sicknesses and confusion, He was "moved with compassion" (Matthew 9:36; Matthew 14:14; Matthew 18:27). We, too, should be helping, giving, sharing, caring, encouraging, extending mercy, filled with compassion and acting on it as we are able—in a word showing kindness.