One of the things about ministry that gives me great joy is showing the love of God and His son, Jesus, to those lost in the world. I remember helping a gentleman who was homeless and not a Christian, and he told me something that stuck with me as we parted ways, "It was nice to be treated like a human being." In the Wednesday teen class, we have been learning a simple yet powerful statement. "If I believe God made me in His image, I must believe He created others in His image." The goal is to learn to love others, even those who do not believe as we do, with the love of the Lord. It's hard to just start loving people though, so how do we start? I have found that the way to love all people begins with learning to be kind to all people.
There is a big difference between how the Bible and our culture defines kindness. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) which is defined in this way from the Greek Chrestotes: 'Useful moral excellence of character or demeanor (outward behavior), gracious, gentle, goodness, and kindness.' However, in our culture, kindness means endorsing one's behavior. The Bible gives a definition of how to be kind and our culture says kindness is blind acceptance of one's behavior. See the difference?
Proverbs 11:17 says, "A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself." Paul tells Titus in chapter 3:4-5 that it is because of the "goodness and kindness of God" that He saved us through Christ. It is not because we are righteous, but it is one of the beautiful character traits of a loving God. The goal in being kind to all people is that it is a quality of God that we can develop, envelop, and show. When we are kind to all people, they see God.
Of course, kindness isn't just a benefit to others. Proverbs 21:21 tells us, "Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor." Kindness makes life more enjoyable for those who give it out. One cannot practice kindness with malice on their heart, therefore kindness will always leave one with a clear conscience. Personally, I can't think of a time when I practiced kindness and wasn't filled with joy. Kindness benefits the one practicing it, as well.
As we are going in the world this week, I challenge us to look for the lost and show them the character trait of God that brought Him to compassion to save you and me. We may just play a part in saving a soul.