Attracting the Sheeplike by Kindness
TODAY many sheeplike persons are seeking to find the Right Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Kindness on the part of his undershepherds, the dedicated Christian ministers, will be a great help in attracting them to him. Fittingly, kindness is one of the fruits of the spirit that these ministers are required to cultivate.a In addition to explicit commands to show kindness, God’s Word gives us shining examples of kindness. Chief among these are Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, and the apostle Paul too showed exemplary kindness.—Gal. 5:22.
What is kindness? It has been defined as interest in the welfare of others. It means being friendly and sympathetic, helpful and hospitable, benevolent and obliging, gentle and generous, considerate and compassionate, thoughtful and tactful. Kindness extends loving aid, whether in little or in big things.
Most fittingly Christians are repeatedly admonished to show kindness: “What is Jehovah asking back from you but . . . to love kindness?” “Become kind to one another.” “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness.” “Do not forget kindness to strangers.”—Mic. 6:8; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12; Heb. 13:2.
Jehovah sets the example for us in being kind: “Continue to love your enemies and to do good . . . and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind toward the unthankful and wicked.” In what way? “He makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.”—Luke 6:35; Matt. 5:44, 45.
But, most of all, Jehovah God manifested kindness to us by sending his Son to be our Ransomer: “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.” The dictionary gives as one of the definitions of kindness, “humaneness,” but in view of God’s shining example it may well be said that kindness is “Godlikeness.”—Titus 3:4, 5.
Jesus Christ was the great shining earthly example of kindness. He felt tender affection for his people, for they were like so many sheep, skinned, knocked about and shepherdless. Kindly he not only comforted them by the good news of the Kingdom and healed them physically, but he sent out twelve apostles and later seventy disciples to do the same. And, most of all, he showed his kindness by coming to earth and dying for mankind.—Matt. 9:36; 2 Cor. 8:9.
The apostle Paul imitated God and Jesus Christ in showing kindness: “We became gentle in the midst of you, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us. You are witnesses, God is also, how true to loving-kindness and righteousness and unblamable we proved to be.”—1 Thess. 2:7, 8, 10.
Christian kindness has power to attract. Why? Because it is not merely a veneer but an expression of love and all mankind are hungry for love. Thus we are told that it is, not fear of eternal torment or physical violence, but ‘the kindly quality of God that is trying to lead us to repentance.’—Rom. 2:4.
In our day there are even more sheeplike ones bruised, knocked about and shepherdless than there were in Jesus’ day. It is our privilege to seek, find, feed and comfort these. To succeed in this work we need accurate knowledge of Jehovah God and his purposes, zeal for service, mental and physical powers and time. But we also need the quality of kindness, for without it we may well drive away the very ones we are endeavoring to minister to. For us to be without kindness would mean to be blunt, tactless, rude, crude, harsh, rough. Sick persons, physically or spiritually, need gentle and kind treatment.
Of course, these needy sheeplike ones do not know where to find help, some may not even recognize their plight. To be able to manifest kindness we must seek for these sheeplike ones, even as a shepherd looks for a lost sheep. That means going from house to house, standing on the street corners, and at all times being on the lookout for needy sheep. Once having found them let us attract them to the Right Shepherd by ministering to them faithfully and with kindness, imitating Paul even as he imitated Jesus Christ and as Christ imitated Jehovah God.
a For details see The Watchtower, June 15, 1960.