Kindness – Day 5

When I began to turn “kindness” over in my head, it almost always turned into gentleness.  A kind word.  Opposite of a mean, sharp or rough one.  A soft word.
I remembered reading a blog post on kindness a while back.  In it the author (Emily P. Freeman) posited that kind is not nice.  Nice is an ooey, gooey term that – so she and the author a book she was reading and promoting – denotes a soft exterior and soft interior.   That is, “nice” has no conviction or character.  “Kind” on the other hand is soft on the exterior and with a firm center.  Aggression of course, is a hard exterior and firm center.   

“If you have hard edges and firm center, that’s called aggression.  If you have soft edges and spongey center, that’s called niceness.”  She writes.  The way of kindness, she says, is this:  “Rather than the harshness of firm centers and hard edges, and rather than the weakness of spongy centers and soft edges, why don’t we start with kindness? Kindness is the way of firm centers and soft edges . . . It’s time for followers of Jesus to rediscover the power of kindness.” (Barry H. Corey, Love Kindness).

I like this idea.  I generally like what Emily has to say and think she’s right on.  I mean, if God is kind, kind cannot be the opposite of truth or character.  Kindness is not passivity.  But, being the egg-head I am, since her post didn’t contain any Bible references, I don’t know if it’s right.  It’s also certainly not something I’m comfortable completely adhering to in a Bible study that I’m writing. 
I looked up the guy with the book (the book itself probably is loaded with Bible references and support for it’s thesis) – it looks totally interesting and worth a read, but I didn’t have time to do that right now.

So, once again I turned to my old King James Strong’s Concordance.  When I looked up “kindness,” (the word that appears in my NIV) our verses did not make an appearance.  Pull up yourself and looked up Galations 5:22-23 in the King James.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  Which KJV word is translated “kindness” in the NIV?  “Gentleness.”  In the Greek it’s chrestotes – usefulness, excellence in character or demeanor:  –gentleness, good (-ness), kindness.” 

Meanwhile, I have recently been reminded of that slogan from a few decades back, “practice random acts of kindness and senseless  acts of beauty.”  While the idea of practicing kindness is wonderful – the slogan itself is actually silly: as Dallas Willard asked, how can one practice something random?  (Although off-topic, he also points out that no act of beauty is senseless because the beautiful is never absurd.).  Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely agree that we need more kindness in our world.  Kindness is beautiful.  But, we need to cultivate kindness — not randomly act kind.  We need to purposefully understand the kindness of the Lord to encourage kindness to grow and spread in our lives.
This, though, strays from a Bible study about kindness and why it is also translated as gentleness, usefulness and excellence in character or demeanor.  To that, I have no answer and I’m still synthesizing, praying and turning it over in my mind.

So, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit how I’ve struggled with kindness.  I don’t have anything wrapped up for you to summarize it.  My pastor gave a sermon many years ago about the fruit of the Spirit.  He preached that all the virtues are contained in the single virtue: love.  The virtues, he said, all build upon one another and they all are a part of what makes up love.  At the time, I thought this was a bit of a cop-out.  Felt cheated in the sermon, maybe “c’mon!  We could hear a few practical points about all of the fruit of the Spirit…”  Now, I’m beginning to see that he’s right.  Love is kind.  God’s loving kindness has been lavished on us.  Kindness is a component of love.

So, there are my bits and pieces of thought about kindness.  I would have included more Biblical references to kindness – likely from the Old Testament – but when I strayed into the “word” study, it didn’t feel quite right to throw up various verses that aren’t either the same vein or that haven’t been impressed upon me by the Spirit.

But, perhaps the Lord has impressed upon you something about His kindness recently.  I would truly enjoy hearing about it, if so, please share!

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