Showing Kindness to All Men
1. What effect does the lack of loving-kindness have on this world and on men?
THIS is a cold, inhospitable world because so many persons are without loving-kindness. It is a world wherein strangers are often viewed with an icy suspicion. Fear has had a chilling effect on kindness, and in many persons the love of money has strangled what remained of their loving-kindness. Viewed as a hindrance to financial gain, kindness is often replaced by unscrupulousness; thus mental brilliance has provided no guarantee of kindness. Observing this fact, Sir Robert Watson-Watt, principal inventor of radar, said: “I have suffered more in the conduct of my business from people who are brilliant and ingenious in their own techniques, but who have not been educated in being human beings.” Brilliance without loving-kindness causes one to resemble, not Jehovah God, who is “abundant in loving-kindness,” but rather the one who “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone,” Satan the Devil. True it is, that “in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money . . . with no loving-kindness.”—Jonah 4:2, AS; 1 Pet. 5:8; 2 Tim. 3:1, 2.
2. (a) Contrast the “children of God” with the “children of the Devil,” showing their respective fruitage. (b) May the “children of God” properly employ unkindness to try to advance personal or Christian interests?
2 Since the Christian must prove himself to be a son of the Most High and not a “son of the Devil,” how is he to live in a world that has “no loving-kindness”? Can he allow himself to fall into the mud of unkindness in which this wicked world wallows? Can he ever allow himself to try to use unkindness to forge ahead in business, personal or Christian interests? No! not if he wishes to prove himself a son of the Most High, as the apostle John shows: “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not practice righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother.” The “children of God” cannot adopt the unkind practices of the “children of the Devil.” God’s children cannot bring forth, like the “sons of disobedience,” rotten fruit, but they must “go on walking as children of light, for the fruitage of the light consists of every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” Certainly “children of light” cannot employ unkindness to try to advance personal interests or Jehovah’s interests; rather, they use “every kind of goodness.” So kindness or the lack of it furnishes identity as to our sonship.—Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:10; Eph. 5:6, 8, 9.
3, 4. How may Christians recommend themselves as God’s ministers?
3 Kindness informs others as to whether we are imitating God or not; it has the power to give one a recommendation. This is even recognized by the world, as when a noted man went out of his way to carry a suitcase for an elderly lady in a railroad station; and an observer remarked: “That is the first time I ever saw a sermon walking.” Christians, of all persons, must be walking sermons, their daily speech and conduct recommending themselves as God’s ministers. “In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling,” wrote the apostle Paul, “that our ministry might not be found fault with; but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, by the endurance of much, . . . by purity, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness.”—2 Cor. 6:3-6.
4 Kindness is thus part of the “every way” by which the true ministers of God recommend themselves at all times, thereby proving to others that they are “children of light.” This means that they must be “children of God without a blemish in among a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you are shining as illuminators in the world.” Christians must shine both as regards the light of Bible truths and by their moral conduct; in a twofold way they shine brilliantly as illuminators in a crooked world that has “no loving-kindness.”—Phil. 2:15.
5. How did Jesus stress the importance of showing kindness to all men?
5 So if the Christian is going to recommend himself as God’s minister, he must be willing to show kindness to all men. This includes his Christian brothers, strangers, “the unthankful and wicked,” and, yes, even his enemies. Said the Lord Jesus: “Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous. For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing? And if you greet your brothers only, what extraordinary thing are you doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the same thing? You must accordingly be complete, as your heavenly Father is complete.”—Luke 6:35; Matt. 5:44-48.
KINDNESS TO STRANGERS A RESPONSIBILITY
6. How did Paul stress showing kindness to all men?
6 Kindness to all men, as the Son of God explained so forcefully, is a Christian responsibility. The apostle of Jesus Christ admonishes us to keep this responsibility always in mind; Paul wrote: “Let your brotherly love continue. Do not forget kindness to strangers, for through it some, unknown to themselves, entertained angels.” What rewards came to Abraham, Lot and Manoah because they were kind to all men! They entertained angels and received blessings from the Most High, because they never forgot “kindness to strangers.”—Heb. 13:1, 2; Gen. 18:1-10; 19:1-29; Judg. 13:8-20.
7. How do Christians today show kindness to strangers, and why are they happy in doing this?
7 How can Christians today show kindness to strangers? By following the example of Jesus Christ. He showed kindness to all persons, and the most important way he did this was by inviting others to feast upon spiritual food, the truths concerning the “kingdom of the heavens.” To advance the interests of God’s kingdom Jesus showed kindness in every way. Right from the beginning of his ministry he showed hospitality to strangers so as to help them spiritually. When John the Baptist introduced Jesus to two of his disciples, they followed Jesus and asked him: “Where are you staying?” Jesus answered: “Come, and you will see.” “Accordingly they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day.” So the abode of Jesus was a hospitable place; he used it as a means to help others learn about God’s kingdom. But primarily Jesus went to the homes of others, not to beg but to give; he showed kindness to strangers by going to their homes to teach them about the kingdom of heaven. So Christians today not only make their homes hospitable places but are willing to go to the homes of strangers, that they may have a part in the great preaching work foretold by the Lord Jesus: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations.” Today this great preaching and teaching work is being done worldwide by Jehovah’s witnesses, and happy are those who have a part in it! Thus kindness to strangers brings the reward of happiness now. Wrote the apostle Paul: “You must assist those who are weak and must bear in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said, ‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’”—John 1:35-39; Matt. 24:14; Acts 20:35.
8. Why may some feel reluctant to show kindness to strangers, but what is the right attitude?
8 Because of the lack of loving-kindness among many householders today, some Christians may feel reluctant to go to the homes of strangers with the Kingdom message as Jesus and the apostles did. Such ones may feel that the unthankfulness and unkindness of people in general make it too difficult to bring them spiritual things. But if the Christian has real kindness in his heart, he will not hold back from sharing his spiritual goodness with strangers, unthankful though many of them may be. Is not Jehovah God kind even toward the unthankful and wicked? Jehovah God has showed his loving-kindness toward all men by sending his Son into the world, “in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” That is undeserved kindness on the part of God. Despite the preaching of God’s kingdom and other good works, the Christian is not perfect; he cannot earn salvation. So Jehovah treats us kindly. How God’s kindness should inspire us to be like him! “When the kindness and the love for man on the part of our Savior, God, was manifested, owing to no activities in righteousness that we had performed, but according to his mercy he saved us.” Since Jehovah has set a loving example like this, how can any Christian who longs to be a son of the Most High hold back from showing kindness to strangers?—John 3:16; Titus 3:4, 5.
9. Why is it important to share the Kingdom good news with strangers, and does the inhospitality of householders discourage the minister of God?
9 If a person receives God’s goodness and, in turn, is not willing to show kindness to strangers by bringing them the Kingdom good news, he is not showing himself like the Father in heaven but he is letting the Devil make him what Jehovah does not want him to be—unkind to strangers. Kindness to strangers is God’s will for Christians. So the minister of God gladly visits strangers to tell them about God’s kingdom, though he may, at times, have to talk to them through a peephole. The lack of hospitality of householders does not discourage the minister of God; he does not give up in doing what is kind. “Let us not give up in doing what is right.”—Gal. 6:9.
10. How does the Christian show kindness to his enemies and persecutors, and what benefits result from this course of action?
10 It is a test of the Christian’s kindness and love for strangers as to how he responds to unkindness. When he is treated unkindly, he “does not need to fight, but needs to be tactful toward all, qualified to teach, keeping himself restrained under evil, instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed, as perhaps God may give them repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:24, 25) The Christian minister dissolves hostility with kindness: “Keep on blessing those who persecute; be blessing and do not be cursing. But, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap fiery coals upon his head.’ Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.” (Rom. 12:14, 20, 21) Again we read: “When being reviled, we bless; when being persecuted, we bear up; when being defamed, we entreat.” (1 Cor. 4:12, 13) So the Christian does not return evil when he is reviled; he blesses. When persecuted, he bears up under the unkindness and is not crushed in spirit. Jailers and prison guards have come to a knowledge of the truth because Christians “keep on blessing those who persecute.”—Acts 16:25-34.
KINDNESS TO THE BROTHERS
11. What example did Gaius set in showing kindness?
11 The Christian has the privilege of showing kindness not only to strangers and persecutors but also to his Christian brothers who are not known to him personally. The apostle John wrote his beloved friend Gaius: “Beloved one, you are doing a faithful work in whatever you do for the brothers, and strangers at that, who have borne witness to your love before the congregation. These you will please send on their way in a manner worthy of God. For it was in behalf of his name that they went forth, not taking any money from the people of the nations. We, therefore, are under obligation to receive such persons hospitably, that we may become workers with them in the truth. Beloved one, be an imitator, not of what is evil, but of what is good. He that does good originates with God.” So kindness is shown not only by preaching and teaching others God’s truths but by showing hospitality and kindness as did Gaius. He was “doing a faithful work,” and John commended him highly; for those who were recipients of his kindness were “strangers at that.” It may hurt financially at times to show such kindness, but Gaius was not begrudging in his hospitality. Gaius’ kindness brought him many blessings. Besides that heart-warming letter from the apostle John, he was blessed with the privilege of using his home for a meeting place of the congregation in Corinth and of entertaining the apostle Paul: “Gaius, my host and that of all the congregation.” Rich in kindness and love, Gaius had unspeakable blessings; and the testimony to his kindness is there in the ever-enduring Word of God.—3 John 5-8, 11; Rom. 16:23.
12, 13. What is said of the kindness shown by Philemon and Onesiphorus?
12 Setting a good example also in showing kindness to his Christian brothers was Philemon. Writing to him, Paul said: “I always thank my God when I make mention of you in my prayers, as I keep hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the holy ones. For I get much joy and comfort over your love, because the hearts of the holy ones have been refreshed through you, brother.” We do not know what Philemon did to refresh the hearts of the holy ones, but it was some form of kindness. Paul thanked Jehovah in his prayers for such evidences of Philemon’s love.—Philem. 4, 5, 7.
13 Onesiphorus likewise opened wide the apostle’s heart through thoughtful kindness. In Rome he hunted for Paul and found him and evidently brought the apostle some refreshment. Paul often had reason to thank Jehovah for Onesiphorus’ kindness: “May the Lord grant him to find mercy from Jehovah in that day. And all the services he rendered in Ephesus you know well enough.”—2 Tim. 1:16-18.
14, 15. Why are Onesiphorus, Philemon and Gaius good examples for Christians, and how did the Philippians also show the Christian spirit?
14 Onesiphorus, Philemon and Gaius were Christians who were alertly thoughtful as to kindness. They did not let opportunities slip by; they were not so engrossed in their personal interests that they did not think of the needs of others. In this regard we are reminded of the Philippians. In the loving letter to the Philippians, we learn of the close, sympathetic bond between Paul and the congregation. Indeed, one of the reasons for Paul’s writing the letter was to express his gratitude for the kindness of the Philippians. On a number of different occasions they had rendered practical sympathy and kindness to Paul by material assistance, plus words of comfort and cheer. Twice they sent gifts to Paul while he was in Thessalonica, and when the apostle was a prisoner in Rome they dispatched Epaphroditus to him with a memorial of their love. Paul sent Epaphroditus back with this letter that shows that the Philippians were often in Paul’s prayers:
15 “I thank my God always upon every remembrance of you in every supplication of mine for all of you . . . It is altogether right for me to think this regarding all of you, on account of my having you in my heart.” “You Philippians, also know that at the start of declaring the good news, when I departed from Macedonia, not a congregation took a share with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone, because, even in Thessalonica, you sent something to me both once and a second time for my need. . . . I am filled, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the things from you, a sweet-smelling odor, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. In turn, my God will fully supply all your need to the extent of his riches in glory by means of Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 1:3, 4, 7; 4:15, 16, 18, 19.
16. Who assumes the obligation of repaying us for the kindness shown to all men?
16 The Philippians would not go unrewarded for this kindness, Paul shows. God would “fully supply” all their need. Jehovah God assumes the responsibility of repaying kindness, whether we render it to strangers or to Christian brothers. Jehovah’s Word assures us of this: “He that is showing favor to the lowly one is lending to Jehovah, and his treatment he will repay to him.” “Send out your bread upon the surface of the waters, for in the course of many days you will find it again.” “You know that each one, whatever good he may do, will receive this back from Jehovah.”—Prov. 19:17; Eccl. 11:1; Eph. 6:8.
REWARDS FOR SHOWING KINDNESS
17, 18. What unexpected blessings came about because of the kindness shown by Dorcas?
17 So whatever we sow will come back to us. If we sow kindness we will receive kindness back; “in the course of many days you will find it again.” Unexpected blessings come to Christians for showing kindness to all men. Take, for example, Dorcas. “She abounded in good deeds and gifts of mercy that she was rendering. But in those days she happened to fall sick and die.” The disciples at Lydda, where Dorcas had died, heard that the apostle Peter was in a nearby city, Joppa. They sent two men to Peter to entreat him: “Please do not hesitate to come on as far as us.” When Peter arrived at Lydda, “they led him up into the upper chamber, and all the widows presented themselves to him weeping and exhibiting many inner garments and outer garments which Dorcas used to make while she was with them.” We can well picture the scene: A group of widows, tearful and sorrowful at the loss of a dear friend and sister, exhibiting the proofs of Dorcas’ love and kindness, each of them speaking to the apostle about the kindness that had been shown to herself. We know what happened: Peter put everybody outside and prayed to Jehovah. “She opened her eyes and, as she caught sight of Peter, she sat up. Giving her his hand, he raised her up, and he called the holy ones and the widows and presented her alive.”—Acts 9:36-41.
18 What an unexpected blessing! Raised from the dead! This was the first resurrection miracle recorded as performed by one of the apostles, and the circumstances that led to it were rooted in kindness. Who can say that this miracle would have happened if Dorcas had not been abundant in loving-kindness? Not only were Dorcas and the widows blessed, but the occasion furnished a witness to the truth and “many became believers upon the Lord.”—Acts 9:42.
19. What is the divine rule regarding the harsh, cruel person, and how is this illustrated?
19 Those who fail to show kindness to all men miss out on many blessings. Just as it is true that “a man of loving-kindness is dealing rewardingly with his own soul,” so it is that “the cruel person is bringing trouble upon his own organism.” (Prov. 11:17) That is the divine rule. Well illustrating it are Abigail and Nabal. Abigail was “good at discernment and beautiful in form, but the husband was harsh and bad in his practices.” David had showed kindness to Nabal, and one day he sent his men to Nabal to ask for a little food: “Just give, please, whatever your hand may find to your servants and to your son David.” Cruel, stingy Nabal “screamed rebukes at them.” This angered David; he put his sword on, and he and his men determined to repay Nabal for his unkindness. Nabal’s wife, Abigail, intercepted David, bringing him “two hundred loaves of bread and two large jars of wine and five sheep dressed and five seah measures of roasted grain and a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs.” Abigail, in an impassioned plea, reflecting her kindness and discernment, persuaded David not to enter into bloodguilt. As for Nabal, “Jehovah struck Nabal, so that he died.” David recognized that Nabal received from Jehovah what he had coming to him: “David got to hear that Nabal had died and so he said: ‘Blessed be Jehovah, who has conducted the legal case of my reproach. . . , and the evilness of Nabal Jehovah has turned back upon his own head!’” As for kind, sensible Abigail, she had an unexpected blessing: “David proceeded to send and propose to Abigail to take her as his wife.”—1 Sam. 25:3, 8, 14, 18, 38, 39.
20. Why is the mean, cruel person certain to receive the repayment he deserves?
20 We will receive from Jehovah what we have coming to us. Unkindness comes back to one just as surely as does kindness. The mean, cruel person loses out on the blessings of showing kindness and reaps—even in a number of ways—only “trouble upon his own organism.” If the cruel person escapes repayment by man or seems not to suffer from body-injuring emotions, he cannot escape repayment from Jehovah, the accurate Account-keeper. “Certainly,” declares Paul, “the man that is doing unrighteousness will receive back what he unrighteously did, and there is no partiality.” On the other hand, “he that is pursuing righteousness and loving-kindness will find life, righteousness and glory.”—Col. 3:25; Prov. 21:21.
21. What is God opposed to, but what is the Christian spirit?
21 What abundant testimony there is that God is opposed to unkindness—meanness, harshness, stinginess, narrowness and selfishness! The Christian spirit is in accord with gentleness, compassion, long-suffering, hospitality and generosity. The Christian measure is nothing skimpy, though it might be overflowing. Said Jesus: “Practice giving, and people will give to you. They will pour into your laps a fine measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing. For with the measure that you are measuring out they will measure out to you in return.”—Luke 6:38.
22. How should Christians measure out their kindness, and what will be the result?
22 Let us measure out our kindness, then, generously. In showing kindness to strangers by teaching them the Kingdom truths, Christians have the opportunity to show generosity by giving freely of their time. To measure out time skimpily in God’s precious Kingdom ministry, when we could measure it out generously, will deprive us of blessings: “He that sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he that sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Being generous with our kindness to all men will bring rich rewards and unexpected blessings—yes, and you will “prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens.”—2 Cor. 9:6; Matt. 5:45.