The Power of Kindness
“Continue to love your enemies and to do good and to lend without interest, not hoping for anything back, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind toward the unthankful and wicked. Continue becoming compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”—Luke 6:35, 36.
1. Why and how is kindness a power?
KINDNESS is a power because it finds its source in Jehovah, the Most High God, the great Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present.” Setting the supreme example, Jehovah shows kindness to all, even “toward the unthankful and wicked.” Because kindness helps the Christian to be like his Father in the heavens, it is a rewarding power. What rewards there are in being a son of the Most High! Truly as Jesus said: “Your reward will be great.” These words remind us of the divine rule stated long ago concerning the power of kindness: “A man of loving-kindness is dealing rewardingly with his own soul.” The kind person may think he gives his kindness away; actually it comes back to reward the one who loves and practices kindness because he wants to be like his Father in heaven.—Jas. 1:17; Luke 6:35; Prov. 11:17.
2, 3. (a) How do worldly writings on kindness fall short, and with what results? (b) What is the right motive for showing kindness?
2 Much can be read about the rewards of kindness in the books of this world; it is a quality praised by philosophers and writers on manners, etiquette and charm. But those who rely on these worldly works do not bring forth the fruitage of God’s spirit, and their highly polished veneer of politeness and correctness often covers hearts wholly antagonistic to the spirit of God. What is wrong? Warmth and love are lacking, because Jehovah and his will are left out of the matter.
3 Because Jehovah is left out of these worldly discussions of kindness it is no wonder that some persons use kindness to benefit themselves in a self-seeking way. They show kindness but they hope for something back, some favor in return. They use kindness like money—to buy what they want. Their motive is wrong. When the Christian manifests his kindness in practical ways, he does so “not hoping for anything back.” He is kind because he loves his heavenly Father. When we love someone we are often surprised how we imitate, seemingly without effort, some of the good traits and qualities of this beloved person. How love should prompt us, then, to cultivate purposely the qualities that distinguish Jehovah God! “Become imitators of God,” is the divine command. Only by being an imitator of God may one prove to be a son of the Most High. Kindness helps the Christian imitate his Father in heaven.—Eph. 5:1.
4. Explain how one manifests kindness.
4 How does one manifest kindness? In many ways: By being disposed to do good to all men, by being merciful, by being compassionate, by being benevolent, by being patient, by being friendly, by being hospitable, by being generous, by being considerate, by being gentle, and by being obliging. Kindness is rooted in love. Paul said: “Love is patient and kind.” (1 Cor. 13:4, AT) Or as the New World Translation puts it: “Love is long-suffering and obliging.” More than friendliness and politeness, kindness is obliging, yes, willing to go out of the way to assist others in both what is temporal and what is spiritual.
A DIVINE REQUIREMENT
5, 6. Give reasons why practicing kindness is a divine requirement.
5 Kindness is closely linked with love in the Scriptures, as in the word “loving-kindness.” This is kindness coming from love, the kind of love that is steadfast and loyal. The person with this loving-kindness shows the indwelling of the holy spirit for the fruitage of God’s spirit includes “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” God’s spirit transforms a person, enabling him to put on the “new personality” required of true Christians: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.” So kindness is both a convincing evidence of Christian love and a divine requirement.—Gal. 5:22, 23; Col. 3:12.
6 Throughout the Scriptures there is abundant testimony that Jehovah requires the love of kindness on the part of all those who will gain his approval: “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?” It is not strange that Jehovah requires us to love kindness. How often the inspired writers extol the loving-kindness of God! How we should appreciate this quality in the heavenly Father! “How precious your loving-kindness is, O God!” Jehovah rightly requires this quality in man: “The desirable thing in earthling man is his loving-kindness.” We cannot please God with sacrifice alone. Through the prophet Hosea Jehovah says: “I desire kindness, and not sacrifice.” Great could be the sacrifices made by the Christian in the service of God, yet without loving-kindness he could not prove himself to be a son of the Most High. It is something to think about: that Jehovah God has placed loving-kindness in this preeminent position. Without the motive and manifestations of love, one could not receive a reward from God no matter how great the sacrifices: “If I give all my belongings to feed others, and if I hand over my body, that I may boast, but do not have love, I am not profited at all.”—Mic. 6:8, AS; Ps. 36:7; Prov. 19:22; Hos. 6:6, AS, footnote; 1 Cor. 13:3.
7. What does the heavenly Father primarily look for in man?
7 How clear that the motives of man and the qualities of his heart mean more to Jehovah God than brain power. If Jehovah were primarily interested in brain power he would have chosen the wise and intellectual men of the world for carrying out the great work of preaching the Kingdom good news in all the earth. But he has not placed his spirit on the proud and wise of this world; the apostle says “that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many noble . . . in order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God.” The one who seeks to be like his heavenly Father is the one whom God can use and the one whose “reward will be great.”—1 Cor. 1:26-29.
8. What reward does the practice of kindness bring in everyday life?
8 Many are the rewards for practicing kindness now. It is a power that aids us in doing what is right in all the affairs of life. Tactfulness, for instance, can be better understood when we realize that it is rooted in kindness. If we do the kind thing we find that we are doing the tactful thing. How many Talmudlike rules of etiquette are unnecessary, for at the basis of good manners is kindness! Politeness could be defined as kindness in trifles; courtesy as kindness in little things. Kindness is expressed by language as well as by acts. It may seem a little thing to use the word “please,” but when it reflects loving-kindness rather than cold etiquette, it has big significance. We cannot think that Abraham’s, Lot’s and Jehovah’s use of the word was mere formality.—Gen. 12:11-13; 19:1, 2, 18-20; 15:5; 22:1, 2.
9. How does kindness aid one in pursuing peace?
9 Kindness is a power because it helps Christians pursue peace and maintain harmony. It puts misunderstandings to flight and clears the way for forgiveness. In the difficult art of communication, one does not always express thoughts with the desired preciseness; misunderstandings may occur. Here kindness comes to the rescue and preserves peace. It is easy to come to the right understanding through patience and kindness; it is easy to forgive the kind person. Even if one is treated unkindly one’s own kindness blunts the sting of unkindness. Kindness helps everyone live up to the counsel of the apostle: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.”—Col. 3:13.
10. By applying what Scriptural principle may one solve problems?
10 Kindness solves problems. When confronted with a situation that may not be exactly covered by the Scriptures, the Christian seeks a principle that will help solve the matter. He finds it at Ephesians 4:32: “Become kind to one another.” So when one asks, ‘What is the thing to do?’ the course of action is clear: Do the kind thing, for the kind thing is the right thing.
KINDNESS NOT WEAKNESS
11. What is the mistaken view of kindness, and why is kindness not weakness?
11 To be a power for doing right, both in the eyes of men and the eyes of God, kindness must be without weakness. It is a mistake to think that kindness is an easygoingness that allows wrong practices or conditions in the Christian congregation. The Christian overseer cannot condone what is Scripturally wrong in the mistaken belief that he is thus being kind. Kindness does not have its eyes blindfolded to evil or what is out of harmony with the will of God. Parents are not really kind when they let their children do whatever they wish. Mistaken kindness has resulted in much juvenile delinquency. In a Christian congregation spiritual delinquency can result if the overseer views kindness as lacking firmness. True kindness is firm for what is right in God’s eyes; it insists on obedience to God’s commandments. True kindness need not lead to loss of respect, prompting others to take undue advantage of one. The Lord Jesus Christ exemplified the perfect blend of kindness and firmness.
12. What is said about the kindness of Jesus Christ?
12 Was there ever a man as kind as the Lord Jesus? Being an imitator of his Father in heaven, he set the perfect example for his followers. Kings and rulers of this world are seldom approachable; in any event they are too busy. But the Son of God was always approachable and never too busy to help others in both material and spiritual ways. What compassion he showed! On seeing the crowds of people, “he felt tender affection for them, because they were skinned and knocked about like sheep without a shepherd.” People from all walks of life felt free to approach Jesus. Parents would not hesitate to bring children to him: “People began bringing him young children for him to touch these; but the disciples reprimanded them. At seeing this Jesus was indignant and said to them: ‘Let the young children come to me, do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such kind of persons.’ And he took the children into his arms and began blessing them, laying his hands upon them.” Kind in every way, Jesus was still firm for what was right.—Matt. 9:36; Mark 10:13, 14, 16.
13. Why was Jesus not being unkind in exposing the hypocritical clergy? in reproving Peter?
13 Some persons may think that the Lord Jesus was unkind, when they read the twenty-third chapter of Matthew, about how Jesus exposed and denounced the hypocritical religious leaders. Actually the religious leaders were the unkind persons, having spurned the undeserved kindness of God through his Son. Said Jesus: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her, how often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks together under her wings! But you people did not want it.” God’s loving-kindness rejected! Being firm for doing the divine will, Jesus reproved not only the hypocritical clergy but also his own disciples when it would have been unkind not to reprove them. When Jesus told his disciples that he “must undergo many sufferings and . . . be killed,” doing so “with outspokenness,” Peter objected. “Peter took him aside and commenced raising strong objections to him, saying: ‘Be kind to yourself, Master; you will not have this destiny at all.’” But Jesus answered: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumblingblock to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.” Jesus was not being unkind. True kindness is a power because it acts to encourage one to do the will of God. No one is ever being kind if he does or encourages others to do what is out of harmony with Jehovah’s will. Jesus had stated the divine will in a forceful manner; yet in the face of this Peter voiced strong objections. These deserved a firm rebuke.—Matt. 23:37; Mark 8:31, 32; Matt. 16:22, 23.
14. What did Paul find it necessary to administer from time to time, and why was this really kindness?
14 The apostle Paul likewise administered stern rebukes when it would have been wrong and unkind not to do so. Wrote Paul to the Corinthians: “Some are puffed up as though I were in fact not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if Jehovah wills, and I shall get to know, not the speech of those who are puffed up, but their power. For the kingdom of God lies not in speech, but in power. What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and mildness of spirit?” With peace-breakers, puffed up and arrogant, Paul did not take the attitude: ‘My kindness requires me to let them have their way.’ No, he was courageous enough to use the rod of his mouth to administer the proper discipline; this would have beneficial results both for the individuals involved and the Christian congregation. The results of discipline show that it is kind. Jehovah himself does not hold back from disciplining all who would be his sons: “God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is he that a father does not discipline? But if you are without the discipline of which all have become partakers, you are really illegitimate children, and not sons. Furthermore, we used to have fathers who were of our flesh to discipline us and we used to give them respect. Shall we not much more subject ourselves to the Father of our spiritual life and live? True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.”—1 Cor. 4:18-21; Heb. 12:7-9, 11.
15. How does the overseer properly treat the flock of God, and how may he deal with an offender?
15 The Christian overseer today will deal with the flock of God with love and mildness of spirit. This does not hinder him, however, in dealing firmly with those who would imperil the cleanliness and peace of the congregation. He will deal with an offender in a kind way; yet if there is no improvement, the overseer may have to use strong speech. If the offender persists in his unrighteousness, the overseer may need to speak in a sternly rebuking way. When Jesus and Paul rebuked others, they did not lose their temper or speak in a way unbecoming to a servant of God. So today the overseer is firm but kind. Writing to Titus, the apostle Paul said: “An overseer must be free from accusation as God’s steward, not self-willed, not prone to wrath . . . but a lover of strangers, a lover of goodness, sound in mind, righteous, having loving-kindness.” The happiness and spiritual health of a Christian congregation depend to a great degree on the overseer’s loving-kindness.—Titus 1:7, 8.
16. (a) How did Paul treat the flock of God, and what counsel did he give to an overseer on how to show kindness? (b) How does the overseer properly treat the elderly and infirm?
16 The apostle Paul had much to say about how to show loving-kindness in the congregation. He himself set an excellent example for all overseers. He wrote to the Thessalonians: “We became gentle in the midst of you, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children. You are witnesses, God is also, how true to loving-kindness and righteous and unblamable we proved to be to you believers.” Giving instructions on how to show kindness to each person in the congregation, Paul wrote to the overseer Timothy: “Do not severely criticize an older man. To the contrary, entreat him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters with all chasteness. Honor widows that are actually widows.” In the family circle where real love exists, each member treats the other with consideration and kindness. So it should be with the Christian congregation. Some are to be shown the same respect and kindness by overseers as if such ones were their fathers, some as if they were their mothers and some as if they were natural brothers and natural sisters. Doing this, the overseer will also know how to deal kindly with the sick and the infirm. Such ones may not be able to do what they would like to in the Christian ministry; they can only do what their strength allows. Such ones are not to be treated by the overseer as if they are unfaithful to God’s truth; encouragement is what they need, not discouragement. The kind overseer, then, is “tenderly compassionate”; he tries to understand the limitations of others. By his own loving-kindness the overseer encourages all to do what they are able in advancing the good news of God’s kingdom. “Continue becoming compassionate,” said the Lord Jesus, “just as your Father is compassionate.” By trying to understand the problems of the elderly and infirm and by offering what help he can give, the overseer shows compassion and loving-kindness.—1 Thess. 2:7, 10; 1 Tim. 5:1-3; Eph. 4:32; Luke 6:36.
DRAWING POWER OF KINDNESS
17. What is the right response to Jehovah’s loving-kindness?
17 Kindness attracts, unkindness repels. How one is attracted to Jehovah because of his loving-kindness! “His loving-kindness is to time indefinite”—this assurance occurs in every verse of Psalm 136. Thus as one reads the inspired Word and learns of Jehovah’s kindly qualities and of his kind arrangement for forgiveness of sins, one is drawn to Jehovah through his Son. Such kindness causes one to repent and turn away from a course of worldliness, as Paul shows at Romans 2:4: “Do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and long-suffering, because you do not know that the kindly quality of God is trying to lead you to repentance?” Seeing that kindness has such drawing power, the Christian earnestly, fervently, intensely desires to be like his Father in heaven, that by his own kindness he might draw others to the worship of Jehovah God.
18. Contrast the power of kindness with that of unkindness, and so how may a Christian wife win an unbelieving mate to God’s truth?
18 The Christian wife with an unbelieving husband may draw her mate to God’s truth by considerateness and kindness. She does not try to force the truth upon her husband, for she knows the divine will as expressed by Peter: “In like manner, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.” A wife may have been at one time disrespectful of her husband’s headship; she may have been censorious and demanding in her ways, nagging and finding fault at every opportunity. She may not have known what the inspired Proverbs state, that “the contentions of a wife are as a leaking roof that drives one away,” that “better is it to dwell in a wilderness land than with a contentious wife along with vexation.” She may not have read the commentary given these Scriptures by Dr. Philip Lai, an Australian doctor with twelve years of experience on polar expeditions. Reporting on a speech he gave, the New York Times of November 24, 1959, said: “Nagging wives, impossible marriages and fatigue from ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ were listed today as some of the reasons why men went to live in the frozen wastes of the Antarctic.” Unkindness repels, repelling some, it seems, as far away as the “wilderness land” of the South Pole! Kindness works differently; it has tremendous drawing power. The wife who puts on “the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loving-kindness” may win her husband to God’s truth “without a word.” Such is the power of kindness!—1 Pet. 3:1, 2; Prov. 19:13; 21:19; Eph. 4:24.
19. Explain how Christian women win true attractiveness.
19 The apostle’s counsel to Christian women shows what is basic for attractiveness. In some lands girls may be sent to so-called charm schools so they can learn how to be charming. The result? All too often a worldly charm called glamour. Worldly sophistication and glamour may deceive those who go by old-world standards, but those with spiritual discernment are not fooled; they know that the qualities of the heart—unselfishness, appreciation, kindness, compassion and mildness—are basic to true attractiveness: “Do not let your adornment be that of the external braiding of the hair and of the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments, but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God”—and in the eyes of man. By cultivating the fruits of the spirit, the Christian woman possesses a charm that no amount of worldly glamour and etiquette could ever give. Again it amounts to putting God’s will first, trying always to be like our Father in heaven.—1 Pet. 3:3, 4.
20. What are the rewards of the power of kindness?
20 Kindness is a rewarding power. It is a fruit of God’s spirit and part of the “new personality.” It is a divine requirement. It helps solve problems. It is a power at the heart of tactfulness, good manners and true attractiveness. It puts misunderstandings to flight. It makes it easy to forgive others. It is firm for what is right. It helps the Christian pursue peace and draw others to Jehovah and his truth. It helps us obey the command: “Become imitators of God.” If we have pursued goodness and compassion and kindness for this reason, it will be as Jesus said: “Your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.”—Eph. 5:1; Luke 6:35.