Showing Kindness to Others
“A man of loving-kindness is dealing rewardingly with his own soul.”—Prov. 11:17.
1, 2. (a) Give some suggestions that will help in showing kindness to others. (b) Why is kindness an important quality to have?
IF YOU like to have kindness shown to you, try making a practice of showing kindness to others. The little thought and effort it takes bring much happiness. Try to put yourself in the other person’s place. If you are driving home at night and are delayed by a stalled car, why honk and get impatient? How much kinder to offer help. Or at the breakfast table if your child accidentally knocks over the milk, do you think he likes to be told crossly that he is clumsy? Try kindness. Treat others as you like to be treated, as this is the real essence of kindness.
2 Kindness is refreshing. We appreciate it especially because so many people we meet are without kindness. We read of parents’ beating children and violence of all kinds, but rarely do we read any headlines telling of an outstanding act of kindness. Since our natural inclination may be to treat others as they treat us, we do well to remember Jehovah’s counsel: “I desire kindness, and not sacrifice.” (Hos. 6:6, AS, ftn.) It is much better to show kindness in the first place rather than to have to atone for speaking harshly and offending someone, for the unkindness is still remembered.
3. Why should we show genuine kindness, and how is this possible?
3 Just as Jehovah has shown wonderful kindness to us, we want to show similar kindness to others, even though they may be unresponsive. This is possible by the help of his spirit. Among those who have no faith in God and consequently do not have the fruitage of his spirit, we often see an outward kindness, but it is sometimes hypocritical. As soon as one’s back is turned, the flattery also turns to unkindness. But Christian kindness must be more than a thin veneer of politeness and courtesy. True Christians want to show real warmth, love and consideration, the genuine kindness of Jehovah’s spirit. Even if this is difficult at times, there is no need to get discouraged, for we have a high priest, Christ Jesus, who can sympathize with our weaknesses. We are told to “approach with freeness of speech to the throne of undeserved kindness, that we may obtain mercy and find undeserved kindness for help at the right time.”—Heb. 4:15, 16.
FRUITAGE OF THE SPIRIT
4. (a) How can kindness be cultivated? (b) In what way is it linked with love?
4 Since kindness is described Scripturally as the fruitage of God’s spirit, this means it can be cultivated like any other fruit. (2 Pet. 3:18) It can be encouraged to grow if given the proper care and attention. Now particularly is the time to have kindness grow in us by studying God’s Word and the fine example that men of faith in times past have set in showing kindness, by associating with people who manifest this fruitage of the spirit, and by following the Scriptural example and instructions of Christ Jesus, now on the throne of undeserved kindness. Jehovah requires kindness of us. Micah 6:8 says: what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?” Thus if we are real children of God, we will not only show kindness, but love to show kindness. The Hebrew word here rendered kindness is the same elsewhere translated loving-kindness. Kindness is linked with love in the Scriptures because kindness stems from love. If we have love for God and love for our neighbor, then we will show kindness.
5, 6. (a) What does kindness include, and how is it shown? (b) What did Jesus say about kindness?
5 Kindness is mentioned fifth among the fruits of God’s spirit. It indicates that one has a desire to do good, a benevolent disposition, inclined to be considerate and helpful. The fruits of God’s spirit include love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. There is no law against such things, for they are all upbuilding and beneficial. We find that kindness helps to solve problems. It is the force behind tactfulness. It is the basic essence of good manners and true attractiveness. It makes it easier to forgive, but it also helps one to be firm for what is right, and it will attract interested ones to Jehovah and to the truth.—Gal. 5:22, 23.
6 Christian kindness includes being considerate of all, being sympathetic and concerned about others. Kindness is not just a matter of giving to get or showing thoughtfulness to family or friends or those with whom one works. Try showing kindness to strangers also. Jesus said that if someone in governmental service asks you to go a mile, you should go two miles with him. Kindness and consideration should be shown, not only to friends, but even to enemies. “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.”—Luke 6:35, 36.
7. How can we clothe ourselves with kindness, and with what results?
7 Kindness is a good way to overcome indifference or opposition to the Kingdom message. When a Christian shows a patient, friendly and obliging spirit, after a time it may have an effect on the other person. God’s spirit will help one to respond in this way. We are instructed at Colossians 3:12, 13: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also.” Kindness is not something to put on one day and leave home the next. It is a Christian requirement.
8. What is desirable for us to show, and how can we do it?
8 So ask yourself, Do you make an effort to show kindness? Or if someone is unkind to you, are you unkind to the next person you meet? Or do you take your feelings out on your family? Do not be surprised, then, to see your children treat the household pet with meanness. Why not act instead as a solid reef to stop the spreading waves of unkindness? The place to start is at home, and the one to start with is oneself. Remember, “the desirable thing in earthling man is his loving-kindness.”—Prov. 19:22.
KINDNESS IN THE FAMILY
9. How can kindness be shown within a family?
9 In a family where kindness is shown, each one, father, mother and children, must have a part. Husbands should not take their wives for granted, but look for opportunities to give encouragement. Is the spirit in your home such that, when someone says something nice, the other person says, ‘All right, now what do you want?’ How much better it is when the wife shows appreciation for the hard work of her husband and the husband lets his wife know how much he enjoys the meal and the neat home she keeps. Do you do that? It is important not to have two standards, speaking with consideration and politeness outside the home, but unkindly, bluntly and without feeling to those who are close to you.
10. Mention some everyday ways to show kindness to your family.
10 It is often true that actions speak louder than words, so kindness can be shown not only in speech but also by our actions in the home. It may be something little, something unexpected, but bringing happiness or expressing sympathy. It is not necessary but certainly kind if a husband brings flowers for his wife. Or perhaps the wife is not feeling well. It does not take long to help with the dishes or with the children, and she may appreciate it more than a gift. Try letting kindness be your gift.
11. What do the Scriptures tell us about kindness in speech?
11 The wife has an important part in establishing a spirit of kindness in the family. If her husband does not yet have an appreciation for the hope expressed in the Scriptures, she may draw him to the truth by her kindly example. Proverbs 31:26 says of a good wife: “The law of loving-kindness is upon her tongue.” Instead of being an exception, this should be a law or rule of action for the wife. It means thinking before speaking. And the husband wants to keep that law also. With this rule for the home, we will find that kindness solves problems. As Ephesians 4:32 says simply, “Become kind to one another.” Showing kindness in speech is important. We should not think that when Abraham, Lot and even Jehovah said, “please,” it was a mere formality, but they took account of the importance of kindness.—Gen. 18:3, 4; 19:2; 22:2.
12. What are some ways in which kindness can be shown to children?
12 Kindness to children is important for a happy family. Cultivate this quality in them as well, and remember that they do as they see you do. So commend them when they do well in school or in their field ministry, or if they give a good comment in your discussion of the day’s Bible text. Parents should not be irritating their children, and it is a good thing for parents to organize their family in kindness, so that the children know what is expected of them and so they will be built up spiritually by a good theocratic schedule. Children, of course, need encouragement and even discipline to follow out a schedule to be prepared for their studies and to fulfill home chores that may be assigned. But kindness is not to be confused with sentimentality or letting things slide. Mistaken kindness can result in juvenile delinquency. It is no kindness to children when parents do not care about the company they keep, about their attendance or deportment at meetings, about their study of God’s Word, but just let the children drift and do things their own way. The children may well think the parents do not care if this happens. While children, because of immaturity, may not appreciate the close supervision, reproof given to a wise person will cause him to love you for it, and, in time, the same will be true of the child. Some parents pamper their children by giving them everything they can. But a survey at an Idaho school revealed that not a single straight A student owned a car, while 83 percent of those who failed did. Surely the parents providing the cars thought it was a kindness to the child, but it was not so from an educational standpoint.
13. How can one be kind to oneself and receive a blessing?
13 Finally, be kind to yourself. Keep a good schedule for study and service. This may mean turning off the television and going to bed to get some sleep to be fresh to enjoy the next day. It may mean less anxiety over material things and spending more time on spiritual treasures. One who is kind to himself in this way will have contentment and peace of mind and be happy with the blessings of the day. These things will contribute to a happy individual and a happy family.—Luke 12:19-21.
KINDNESS IN THE CONGREGATION
14. What are some ways kindness can be shown within the congregation?
14 Others who deserve our kindness are our spiritual brothers and sisters. Even though one’s own family may be alienated because of the message from God’s Word, there are brothers and sisters a hundredfold in the Christian congregation. (Mark 10:29, 30) We can show them kindness in many ways: perhaps stopping by to cheer up someone who is sick, taking a tasty dish to an elderly pioneer in the congregation, or doing a few chores for a sick sister. Others kindly help new ones prepare talks for the ministry school. One brother goes out of his way to bring an invalid sister by wheelchair to the meetings. Many persons drive long distances to bring interested persons and friends by car to the congregational meetings. Those receiving such kindness may, in turn, show their appreciation by offering to help with the expenses. In the early Christian congregation Dorcas was remembered and richly blessed because she made a practice of showing kindness by “good deeds and gifts of mercy.”—Acts 9:36-42.
15. What counsel did Paul and Peter give Christian servants?
15 In each congregation it is important for the servants to cultivate the quality of kindness. Paul, in writing to the Thessalonians, showed that as a servant he had been ‘gentle in the midst of them as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children, or like a father, exhorting his children, so they would walk worthily of God.’ (1 Thess. 2:7, 11, 12) This well reflects the attitude of a servant toward the congregation. At Ephesians the apostle speaks about “the stewardship of the undeserved kindness of God that was given me with you in view.” Paul recognized that just as he had received the undeserved kindness of God, he had the responsibility or stewardship to use it in behalf of others, particularly Gentiles. Peter also declared: “In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God’s undeserved kindness expressed in various ways.” (1 Pet. 4:10) The overseer may have to exhort, reprimand and counsel, but he will do it in kindness, knowing that kindness attracts but unkindness repels.
16. In what ways might kindness be shown at meetings?
16 Each one in the Christian congregation has the opportunity to manifest kindness to others. Instead of being disturbed because a sister with several children cannot control them as she might like, perhaps you can offer to sit with them to help. It is a kindness to ourselves as well as to others not to make a practice of coming late to meetings, thereby disturbing others and missing important material; or, if late unavoidably, sit at the rear where as few as possible will be disturbed. A brother showing kindness would not severely criticize an older man but entreat him as a father. Younger ones can also show kindness by a friendly word to the older ones, or offering to be helpful.—1 Tim. 5:1-3.
THE PURPOSE OF UNDESERVED KINDNESS
17, 18. Why show kindness to strangers?
17 From time to time some have the opportunity to entertain visiting speakers or a circuit servant and his wife. At 3 John 5-8, the aged apostle showed that we have an obligation to receive such persons hospitably, since doing what is good originates with God. If we sow kindness we will also reap kindness. Even the act of giving one of Jesus’ disciples a cup of cold water would be favorably remembered by Jehovah. (Matt. 10:41, 42) The Scriptures give many fine examples of showing kindness to strangers, as when Elijah was kindly received by the widow of Zarephath. (1 Ki. 17:8-24) This poor widow offered her last bit of food to the prophet during a famine and was richly blessed as a result. Jehovah kept her supplied with flour and oil thereafter, and later restored her son to life.
18 At Acts 28:2 Paul relates how he and others were shipwrecked on the island of Malta, where “the foreign-speaking people showed us extraordinary human kindness.” They came out despite the cold and rain and built a fire, receiving the shipwrecked strangers with great helpfulness, so that they were favorably remembered in God’s Word. No doubt Paul returned this kindness by leaving them a spiritual blessing by the things he told them. (Acts 28:30, 31) We, in turn, do well to show kindness to strangers. As Hebrews 13:2 (1950 edition) says, “do not forget kindness to strangers, for through it some, unknown to themselves, entertained angels.”
19. How can we show we are not missing the purpose of God’s undeserved kindness?
19 Today Jehovah’s people outstandingly show kindness by sharing the truth with others. The apostle reminds us: “We also entreat you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.” Now is the time when the Kingdom message is being preached, now in the “day of salvation.” So we do not want to give “any cause for stumbling, that our ministry might not be found fault with; but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, . . . by kindness, by holy spirit, by love free from hypocrisy, by truthful speech, by God’s power.” (2 Cor. 6:1-7) Regardless of the situation in which we may find ourselves, we can still recommend ourselves, not only by our knowledge of his Word and the way we react under difficulties, but also by showing the fruitage of the spirit, including kindness.
20. How did Jesus show kindness in his ministry?
20 Our showing kindness means we are imitating God. Jesus outstandingly set the lead for us in this as he preached the truth. After John the Baptist had pointed him out as the Lamb of God, two of John’s disciples followed Jesus and asked where he was staying. Jesus invited them to come and see. After spending the rest of the day with Jesus, Andrew told his brother Simeon: “We have found the Messiah.” Yes, Jesus showed hospitality and kindness by talking about God’s Word.—John 1:41; 2 Cor. 8:9.
21. How can kindness be shown in the ministry today?
21 Jehovah’s witnesses today regularly show kindness by taking the message of life to others, making return visits, conducting studies, asking nothing in return. As we do this we show kindness in our speech by being tactful and courteous, taking time to listen to what the householder wants to say. It would be easy to be sharp or sarcastic in replying to a householder who is rude, but remember that Jehovah requires kindness. On more than one occasion a soft answer has opened the mind of the householder to consider the truth. While an immature person might give a sour answer, one who is mature knows that this would not properly represent the God of kindness.
22. Why is it no kindness to withhold the truth?
22 Of course, speaking with kindness does not mean being wishy-washy or watering down the truth, because speech can be kind and yet to the point. Jesus spoke strongly to the clergy class but kindly and patiently to sheeplike ones. It is no kindness to withhold the truth, even though it may hurt at first. Just as an operation may cause pain for a blind person, when his sight is restored, the joy that he gains on seeing again makes up for all of it. So, whether one is sick physically or spiritually, kindness is appreciated and can open closed ears to the truth. An experience showing this was enjoyed by a Witness who started a study with a woman living with her aged Irish mother. The mother was very hostile and told the Witness not to come, but her daughter went to the publisher’s home to continue the study. The mother liked this even less, so she finally agreed that the Witness could come to their home again for the study. When she returned, the sister took a few flowers along, as she felt old people are often neglected and feel unwanted. After that the lady gradually took an interest in the truth and finally admitted: “I was an old cat to you, but you just gave me kindness in return. I used to think that all that was left for me was to grow old and die, but there is a new life opening up for me now.” So kindness helped change this person’s viewpoint toward the truth.
23. How can we show ourselves to be children of Jehovah?
23 Just as Jehovah shows kindness, giving the rain and the sun, food and shelter, even to those unthankful and wicked, we can show kindness even to those now rejecting the truth. By so doing we show that we are not children of this system but, rather, have the fruits of Jehovah’s spirit as his children. (Matt. 5:43-46) The kindly conduct of Jehovah’s witnesses at assemblies has been a wonderful testimony to Jehovah’s honor. As a New Zealand cafeteria manager said: “I never before met such courteous, kind and thoughtful people.”
24. What does kindness not include? Why?
24 Finally, kindness in the family and the congregation can be shown by firmness for what is right. Kindness is not weakness. It does not mean condoning what is wrong. Such mistaken kindness can result in juvenile or adult delinquency, and spiritual delinquency may result in the congregation if the overseer views kindness as a lack of firmness for right principle. It is never kind to encourage others to do what is out of harmony with God’s will; so, if a Christian begins to drift away from Jehovah’s way, kindness would not be shown by withholding counsel or even deserved discipline. Peter at one time gave poor counsel to Jesus when Jesus told him that he was about to suffer and die. Peter said: “Be kind to yourself, Lord.” But Jesus turned his back, saying: “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matt. 16:22, 23) Peter was rebuked and rightly so. His words that he felt were spoken in kindness were not in accord with Jehovah’s purpose. So kindness must be linked with truth and with love for Jehovah.
25. What effort does Satan make to counteract kindness?
25 Satan wants to cause division and stop the working of God’s spirit through friction in Christian homes and congregations. Divisions in Jehovah’s congregation because of personal differences or petty arguments would hinder the flow of Jehovah’s spirit and hold back the fruitage of the ministry, but Jesus’ disciples are known by the love they show, and love covers weaknesses and imperfection, even a multitude of sins. However, all who have the hope of living in Jehovah’s new system of things must also be on guard to protect the congregation from those who would let some turn the undeserved kindness of God into an excuse for loose conduct.—Jude 4.
26. In what way can kindness help us to get along with others?
26 Kindness will help us to improve our relations with others. Instead of getting worked up and tense, we should let Jehovah’s spirit operate. A gentle, friendly and merciful attitude is associated with kindness, and it is certainly much better to show kindness in the first place than to try to patch up unhappiness. So if you find in your family a tendency toward friction or lack of love, even harsh, rude talk, try cultivating this fruit of the spirit. Even though others in the household may be opposed to the truth, a kind attitude on the part of a Christian will help, just like oil on stormy waters.
27. Why is kindness so important to a Christian?
27 It is by Jehovah’s undeserved kindness that we have the prospect of life; so we should reflect like kindness to others. (Eph. 2:5-8) Just as we endeavor to cultivate Kingdom fruitage in our field ministry, so we want to cultivate the fruitage of God’s spirit. If we do this we will show we are obeying God’s law of kindness. It will be not only upon our tongue but on our mind and heart, and we will make it a part of our new personality. We will find that it helps to solve our problems and makes it easy to forgive. Kindness has an upbuilding quality that prompts others to respond in kind. It helps us to draw others to Jehovah by our words and acts. As we display this fruit of the spirit, our hope and trust in Jehovah will not lead to disappointment. So, to walk with Jehovah, we must love kindness, for Jehovah requires kindness, even in the midst of an unkind world. Kindness leads to life.—Rom. 2:4; 5:2.
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Kindly consideration for others