On our recent visit to South Africa, we were privileged to go to the Game Reserve for a few days. This is one of my favorite places in the world, not only because I dearly love animals and love seeing them free, but also because it is always a place I feel the Presence of God so deeply. In the rawness of nature, the Lord speaks to me, and His love, peace and kindness pervade my heart.
When you visit a Game Reserve, the animals are best seen in the early morning and late afternoon. So each morning at 6:00 a.m., when the gates opened, Ken and I would begin our drive. I would get very excited by what the Lord would bring our way that day. One can drive for hours and see very little at times, but I just had such a knowing that my Father wanted to bless us simply because He is so very kind. We saw so many animals, and such a variety was quite exceptional. Some sightings were very rare. Each night I went to bed overwhelmed by the kindness of my Father. It was the little details that really got to me. A number of years ago, we were privileged to see a herd of elephants swimming in a lake. Not just drinking and splashing around, but swimming. I longed to see this again. Sure enough, one afternoon we got to a dam and there was a huge herd of elephants swimming. The young ones swam for almost 45 minutes. That is our Father. He surprises us with His beautiful gifts of kindness over and over.
Romans 2:4 says, “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.” The word kindness here means amongst other things, “It is the grace which pervades the whole nature mellowing all which would have been harsh or austere” “Has only the harmlessness of the dove, not the wisdom of the serpent.”
Now that word kind in the concordance means: To furnish what is needed. Useful, profitable, good, kind, obliging, and gracious.
In the dictionary, kind means:
1. Having a generous, warm, compassionate nature
2. Showing generosity or compassion
3. Not harsh, unpleasant, or likely to have destructive effects
4. Showing courtesy or caring about somebody
5. Full of love
This shows that Jesus Himself is kind. Jesus shows us mercy and kindness in so many ways. It is out of Jesus’ mercy and kindness we were brought to salvation. When we see His amazing kindness, our hearts are so warmed and thankful, it is easy to want to repent and put right with God any areas we might need to.
The Bible is full of stories of kindness. For example, we see the kindness of Joseph to his underserving brothers in Gen. 50: 18-21. In Ruth we see the kindness of Ruth to Naomi. She simply would not leave her. That kindness in turn opens the door for Naomi to be instrumental in Ruth marrying Boaz. Then, as we read the Gospels, we read many accounts of the kindness of our Lord Jesus, be it feeding the 5,000, healing the sick, raising the dead, calling the children to Himself, or walking on water to get to the disciples. Kindness can be found all over the Bible.
Jesus demonstrates His amazing kindness to us both in the Bible and in our lives. Over and over again, we too are called to live a life of kindness to others. Within ourselves this might seem hard, but Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit, enabling us to walk in supernatural kindness as we have the fruit of kindness in us. So let us look at some keys to kindness:
- Be intentional. Some people are just naturally kind, and others find it hard, especially when they have been hurt by someone or feel a person does not deserve it. But for this fruit to grow, we need to be intentional about being kind and, like our Lord, our kindness should be shown to all, deserving or undeserving.
- There is a difference between an act of kindness and being kind. The more we practice the fruit of the Spirit, kindness, the more we move from doing acts of kindness to being kind.
- We can show kindness in speech. James 2:12-13: “Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.” (The Message)
- Make time to be kind. I know that sounds silly, but in today’s busy world, time seems to fly by. We need to take time to call people, time to pray for people, time to spend with people, etc. In a world where texting has become the norm, even our culture needs to be put aside and time taken to call someone or visit them.
- Find ways to give to people. It really touches people when out of the blue, you have a little gift for them. Not their birthday or anything, just something to let them know you are thinking of them. It can be a meal, candy, a note, etc. It is not what you give, but it is to give.
There are so many ways to be kind; the list is unending. We know that kindness is rewarded. Luke 6: 35: “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” So we see here that kindness is not only to those we know and love but to all. In addition, being that kindness is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we expect supernatural results.
An example of this was when we used to go to an unreached people’s group in Zimbabwe. We knew they were exceptionally poor and we would take up food and clothing each time we went up. There was a witchdoctor in the community and we were praying for him. The witchdoctor is who the community looks to and who opens and closes the doors for who can come into the community. As we always took things up, he never stopped us. But in God, we felt to specifically take this man a really good suit. His face glowed. It was so beautiful to see. This resulted in the supernatural salvation of this man. Wow. In addition, as a group we were always overwhelmed by the kindness of the people to us. For example, they were up at 4:30 a.m. to walk a mile to get water and carry buckets and buckets of water for us, so that when we woke up, we not only had water to bathe in, but it had already been warmed over a fire. There was never one visit we had there that the entire team was not overwhelmed by their kindness to the point of tears. I am still certain that we received so much more than we gave. That is the nature of our God and His amazing kindness.