Converted members of God's church have a blessing that absolutely no one else in the world has: Christians have a true understanding of living as God Himself lives. We have faith in God's Word to follow its direction in keeping God's law and growing in the fruit of God's Spirit. God has freed us from the clutches of Satan and his world so that we can live in imitation of His Son. Yet, in Galatians 5:13, Paul exhorts us that we "were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (English Standard Version).
We have been given a variety of different gifts and blessings, all of which God wants us to use in His service. In serving others, we must try to put ourselves in their shoes. We have to use our gifts and skills thoughtfully so that we truly aid them. We can help someone with his or her homework or take a neighbor shopping. Sometimes it can be as simple as helping an elderly person carry a piece of furniture or even a heavy bag of groceries. Twenty pounds might not seem like much to lift now, but when a person ages, it can seem as if it weighs a ton. Have empathy. Remember, one day we will be 80 years old too!
Yes, doing good deeds is essential, but by comparison, just being nice should be a breeze. In being kind, we must also learn to be patient. Impatience is a flaw in the character of most people that must be overcome, but learning patience is rarely easy. The New International Version translates the first part of I Corinthians 13:4 as, "Love is patient, love is kind . . . ." Patience is listed first in the attributes of Christian love, even preceding being kindness.
Why is this important? Learning to be patient with others is a struggle, but God is patient with our weaknesses. With Him as our example of perfect lovingkindness, we need to be patient with the weaknesses of others. Out of our patience will spring truly helpful kindness.
The God's Word translation of I Peter 4:10 reads, "Each of you as a good manager must use the gift that God has given you to serve others." Philippians 2:4 says that we should "look not only to [our] own interests, but also to the interests of others." Being kind, then, is our Christian duty. And as one man wrote of a life lesson his father imparted to him, "Kindness is the one thing you'll never have to take back."
It is so easy to get wrapped up in ourselves. We focus on our views on social media, our jobs, our family, our school, our sports team, our plans, etc. Years ago, I used to chat over the Internet with a friend about the Bible and news, among other things. We were both single, and we commiserated about wanting better jobs, being lonely, and similar kinds of subjects. These are the things people of our age were concerned about, but my friend thought outside of himself and even beyond our friendship. He set a great example of outgoing concern and kindness.
For instance, in his church there was an older lady whose husband had cancer. The husband was being treated at a hospital that was some distance away. My friend would drive a long distance to her house, and then drive her all the way to the hospital, and then drive her back home again. That is just how he was—kind and considerate.
Friends of mine, Lila and her husband Richard, were a wonderful couple. Shortly after I started attending church with them, they saw that I was lonely and offered to take me out for dinner. Both of them were generous, friendly, and kind. In fact, I found out that Lila's kindness and service were not recent developments: She had been voted Foster Mother of the Year in 1961!
Even after Richard died, Lila continued her frequent acts of kindness. In at least a few instances, Lila offered a room in her home to women who lived out of state but were dating men in our area. One couple is married today at least partly as a result of her kindness.
Once, an older woman who is quite shy visited from another state. While attending a Night to Be Much Observed in our area, a younger woman spent a considerable amount of time talking to her and making her feel comfortable in the new surroundings, helping to ease her into the larger gathering. At other times, the younger woman sent cards to encourage her, and sometimes she would just listen to what the older woman had to say. She was simply being nice.
We depend upon the friendships we have with each other. Showing kindness to one another within them will make them all the stronger. Kindness reduces friction; it is the oil that allows our friendships to run their best. Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 4:12, "Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him, and a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
Although not as important as spiritual blessings for kindness, physical benefits also result when we are kind. An article on the Huffington Post website by Dr. David Hamilton, "5 Beneficial Side Effects of Kindness," lists them:
Kindness makes us happier. Being kind increases the levels of dopamine in our brains and gives us sort of a "Helper's High."
Kindness gives us healthier hearts. When we are kind, chemical reactions work in our bodies to lower our blood pressure and protect our hearts.
Kindness slows aging. When we are kind, our bodies produce hormones that work to eliminate some of the negative effects of poor lifestyle choices we have made.
Kindness makes for better relationships. Simply put, we need to work together, and we work better and more effectively with people who are nice.
Kindness is contagious. When we are nice to people, it inspires them to be nice to others.
As we saw in Part One, the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) is a great example of the Golden Rule. The Samaritan thought of the needs of his fellow man and expended effort to fill them. As He finished the parable, Jesus reflected on the Samaritan's sacrifice and told the lawyer—and us—if you want to be a good neighbor, "Go and do likewise."
- John Reiss