“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” -Micah 6:8
The unofficial theme for the past month, the word that God keeps seeming to put in front of our community, in our minds and hearts, in our conversations, has been kindness. I think of kindness as love with hands and feet – the visible and tangible outpouring of love. But I have also found it to be a helpful way to grow love when love is difficult. Because kindness is an action, it is also a choice. We may not always be in circumstances that make us happy. We may not always feel a warmth of love toward someone. But we can always find ways to act in kindness. In my own life, when I choose to act with kindness, I find myself learning to love the recipient of my kindness. This is true when I am kind to myself, too.
Kindness is everywhere in the Bible. “Chesed” is the Old Testament Hebrew word translated “lovingkindness.” It is most often describing God’s covenant kindness to us, but that kindness is to spill over into our actions with each other and even with strangers. In the New Testament “agape” is a Greek word that includes this concept – this “love with hands and feet.” Kindness is one of seven fruits of the Holy Spirit, one of the qualities that will radiate from those who love the Lord (Galatians 5). Colossians says to “clothe ourselves” with kindness – to wear it every day as our faithful fashion statement. Even beyond Christianity, every world religion has kindness as a central concept.
Where does kindness come from? Most importantly, kindness comes from an awareness of God’s kindness to us, a cup of blessing that fills to the brim and spills over into our interactions. Kindness is also a moment-by-moment choice. I am a firm believer that kindness can also be a way of harnessing suffering. We all have suffering in our lives, and we can choose to let that suffering close us down and make us bitter. Or we can choose to let that suffering open us and connect us to others – make us gentle and tender, understanding and compassionate. Suffering transformed can become kindness.
My prayer for us this month is that God will reveal his lovingkindness in our lives, fill our cup to overflowing, and show us ways to transform suffering into kindness, that Gods kindness might flow into all the world.
Chaplain Laura Stone