“Become Kind to One Another”
WHAT a pleasure it is to associate with kind persons! Their consideration and active interest in the welfare of others stand out in sharp contrast to the selfishness of those who are harsh and rude.
Those who are desirous of pleasing God have good reason to be concerned about showing kindness. Jehovah God, the Creator of mankind, wants all of us to cultivate this quality in full measure. Kindness is a fruit of his spirit. (Gal. 5:22) The Bible urges those who love God: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.”—Col. 3:12.
The example that Jehovah God has set in showing kindness should move us to want to display this admirable quality in our own lives. On that very basis, the apostle Paul admonishes us, saying: “Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.”—Eph. 4:32.
Surely Jehovah God has been kind in forgiving us our transgressions. As the Scriptures state: “He kindly forgave us all our trespasses.” (Col. 2:13) How wrong it would be, therefore, for us to harbor grudges or resentment against our fellows because of their minor transgressions against us! It would indeed be unkind to shun them or to refuse to speak to them because of their having disappointed us in some way. Would we want others to react that way on account of our minor failings? And where would we stand if Jehovah God held all our many errors against us?—Ps. 130:3.
If we want God to continue benefiting us with his kindness, we must be willing to cover over one another’s minor transgressions. As Jesus Christ pointed out: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”—Matt. 6:14, 15; see also Luke 6:35, 36.
CONSIDERATE SPEECH AND ACTIONS
Kindness toward others, however, is not limited to being forgiving. It also includes considerate speech and actions. At times a person may be prone to take liberties with those to whom he is close, his relatives and friends. When dealing with strangers, he may be very courteous, saying “please” and “thank you,” and show outstanding consideration for their feelings. But when it comes to family members and friends, he may be careless about his words and actions. He may reason that those who really know him will understand regardless of how he might act or express himself. While this may be true to some extent, does it really make life more pleasant and enjoyable for such close associates? Does it not, rather, put a strain on their kindness?
Consider what faithful angels have done in dealing kindly and respectfully with humans. Though superior in strength and power, angels are never depicted in the Scriptures as if suggesting that they took liberties when speaking to humans on earth. (2 Pet. 2:11) They were very respectful, granting due dignity to those whom they addressed. For instance, Jehovah’s representative angel said “please” when talking with Abraham. (Gen. 13:14) Should we not be willing to do the same for fellow humans, kindly according them the dignity and respect due to them?
Granted, in this unkind world it may not be easy to show kindness. A person may find himself having to deal with rude, unprincipled people. But does this mean that kindness is out of place with these? Not at all.
Think about the man Lot and the situation he faced in Sodom. When he entertained angelic visitors in his home, a mob surrounded his house, demanding that he turn his guests over to them for immoral purposes. What did he do? Did he lose control of himself and angrily denounce the mob? No, Lot exercised great restraint, appealing to the mob with kind words: “Please, my brothers, do not act badly.”—Gen. 19:7.
Since Lot spoke so kindly to very vile men, certainly we should want to do no less for those who are our companions in seeking after God, even if they are perhaps thoughtless in some way. We should exert ourselves to express great kindness to them, even as we do to those who show no interest in the Bible’s message. In this way, we act in harmony with the inspired admonition: “As long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.”—Gal. 6:10.
The writer of this inspired counsel, the apostle Paul, did just that. When he wrote to Philemon to receive back with kindness his runaway slave Onesimus, who had become a newly converted brother, Paul himself demonstrated great kindness. Paul could have ordered Philemon to do what he, as an apostle, deemed proper. But the apostle Paul chose to appeal to Philemon’s love of right. He wrote: “Though I have great freeness of speech in connection with Christ to order you to do what is proper, I am exhorting you rather on the basis of love, seeing that I am such as I am, Paul an aged man.”—Philem. 8, 9.
Surely this kind, warm approach to the matter was far more effective in reaching Philemon’s heart than would have been an authoritative command. Such kindness impels one to want to respond favorably to the one showing it. Kindness also contributes toward the development of strong bonds of love and affection.
This quality can have a powerful effect for good even on unkind persons. As the Bible says: “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.” (Rom. 12:20) Your kind words and acts toward someone who is unkind may cause him to become ashamed about the way he has acted. He may soften his attitude toward you. His heart may be moved to respond with kindness, bringing out the best in him. Would that not be a grand and rewarding blessing for having displayed kindness?
In view of the benefits resulting from showing kindness, we should indeed strive to cultivate this quality in fuller measure. This will contribute much toward others’ happiness and thereby also to our own. “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving,” says God’s Word. (Acts 20:35) Most importantly, we thereby gain and maintain the approval of our kind heavenly Father, Jehovah God.