Please Jehovah by Showing Kindness
“What is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?”—MICAH 6:8.
1. Why should it not surprise us that Jehovah expects his people to show kindness?
JEHOVAH expects his people to show kindness. This should not surprise us. God himself is kind to all, even to unthankful wicked people. In this regard Jesus Christ told his disciples: “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 merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”—Luke 6:35, 36.
2. What questions regarding kindness merit our consideration?
2 As Micah 6:8 declares, those walking with God must actually “love kindness.” Obviously, Jehovah is pleased when his servants love kindness and display it in a heartfelt way. But what is kindness? What benefits result from showing it? And how can this quality be shown?
What Kindness Is
3. How would you define kindness?
3 Kindness is the quality of taking an active interest in others. It is shown by helpful acts and considerate words. To be kind means doing good rather than anything harmful. A kind person is friendly, gentle, sympathetic, and gracious. He has a generous, considerate attitude toward others. And kindness is part of the fabric of every true Christian’s figurative attire, for Paul urged: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.”—Colossians 3:12.
4. How has Jehovah taken the lead in showing kindness to mankind?
4 Jehovah takes the lead in showing kindness. As the apostle Paul said, it was “when the kindness and the love for man on the part of our Savior, God, was manifested” that “according to his mercy he saved us through the bath that brought us to life and through the making of us new by holy spirit.” (Titus 3:4, 5) God cleanses, or ‘bathes,’ anointed Christians in Jesus’ blood, applying the merit of Christ’s ransom sacrifice in their behalf. They are also made new through holy spirit, becoming “a new creation” as spirit-begotten sons of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Of course, God’s kindness and love for man also extend to an international “great crowd,” who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9, 14; 1 John 2:1, 2) Moreover, anointed ones and the great crowd, with an earthly hope, are all under Jesus’ “kindly” yoke.—Matthew 11:30.
5. Why should we expect those led by God’s spirit to show kindness to others?
5 Kindness is also part of the fruitage of God’s holy spirit, or active force. Said Paul: “The fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) So, what should we expect of those led by God’s spirit? Surely, they would show kindness to others.
6. Kindness should cause elders and other Christians to act in what way?
6 Kindness can be displayed in many ways. We show kindness when we are merciful. For example, Christian elders are kind when they extend mercy to a repentant wrongdoer and seek to help him spiritually. The God-given quality of kindness makes overseers patient, considerate, compassionate, and gentle. It moves them to “treat the flock with tenderness.” (Acts 20:28, 29) In fact, the spirit’s fruit of kindness should make all Christians merciful, patient, considerate, compassionate, friendly, and hospitable.
Avoid Mistaken Kindness
7. Why would you say that mistaken kindness is weakness?
7 Some people view kindness as weakness. They feel that a person must be hard, even rude, at times, so that others will be impressed by his strength. But it has well been said that “rudeness is a weak man’s imitation of strength.” Actually, it takes real strength both to be truly kind and to avoid mistaken kindness. The kindness that is a fruit of God’s spirit is not a weak, compromising attitude toward wrong conduct. Rather, mistaken kindness is a weakness that causes one to condone wrongdoing.
8. (a) With regard to his sons, how did Eli prove to be lax? (b) Why must elders guard against succumbing to mistaken kindness?
8 Israel’s high priest Eli was lax in disciplining his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who officiated as priests at the tabernacle. Not content with the portion of a sacrifice assigned to them by God’s Law, they had an attendant demand raw meat from an offerer before the fat of the offering was made to smoke on the altar. Eli’s sons also had immoral intercourse with women serving at the entrance of the tabernacle. Instead of ousting Hophni and Phinehas from office, however, Eli merely rebuked them mildly, honoring his sons more than God. (1 Samuel 2:12-29) No wonder “word from Jehovah had become rare in those days”! (1 Samuel 3:1) So Christian elders must not succumb to false reasoning or to manifesting mistaken kindness that could imperil a congregation’s spirituality. True kindness is not blind to evil words and deeds that violate God’s standards.
9. (a) What attitude can help us to avoid succumbing to mistaken kindness? (b) How did Jesus show strength in handling apostate religionists?
9 If we are to avoid showing mistaken kindness, we must pray for God’s help to have such strength as was evident in the psalmist’s words: “Get away from me, you evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God.” (Psalm 119:115) We also need to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who was never guilty of showing mistaken kindness. In fact, Jesus was the very epitome of true kindness. For instance, ‘he felt tender affection for the people because they were skinned and knocked about like sheep without a shepherd.’ Therefore, honesthearted people felt free to approach Jesus, even bringing their young children to him. And just imagine the kindness and compassion he displayed as “he took the children into his arms and began blessing them”! (Matthew 9:36; Mark 10:13-16) Though Jesus was kind, he was nevertheless firm for what was right in the sight of his heavenly Father. Jesus never condoned evil; he had the God-given strength to denounce the hypocritical religious leaders. At Matthew 23:13-26, he several times repeated the pronouncement: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Each time, Jesus gave reason for divine judgment.
Kindness Linked With Love
10. How do Jesus’ disciples show kindness and love to fellow believers?
10 Concerning his followers, Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) And what is one aspect of the love that identifies Jesus’ true disciples? Paul said: “Love is long-suffering and kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Being long-suffering and kind means that we put up with the imperfections and failings of others, even as Jehovah so kindly does. (Psalm 103:10-14; Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9, 15) Christian love and kindness also manifest themselves when hardships beset fellow believers somewhere on earth. Responding with more than “human kindness,” Christians elsewhere show brotherly love by donating material things to help such worshipers of Jehovah.—Acts 28:2.
11. Scripturally speaking, what is loving-kindness?
11 Kindness is linked with love in the word “loving-kindness,” often used in the Scriptures. This is kindness stemming from loyal love. The Hebrew noun rendered “loving-kindness” (cheʹsedh) includes more than tender regard. It is kindness that lovingly attaches itself to an object until its purpose in connection therewith is realized. Jehovah’s loving-kindness, or loyal love, is displayed in various ways. For instance, it is shown in his acts of deliverance and protection.—Psalm 6:4; 40:11; 143:12.
12. When Jehovah’s servants pray for help or deliverance, of what can they be certain?
12 No wonder Jehovah’s loving-kindness draws people to him! (Jeremiah 31:3) When God’s faithful servants need deliverance or help, they know that his loving-kindness is indeed loyal love, which will not fail them. Hence, they can pray in faith, as did the psalmist who said: “As for me, in your loving-kindness I have trusted; let my heart be joyful in your salvation.” (Psalm 13:5) Since God’s love is loyal, his servants do not trust in his loving-kindness in vain. When they pray for help or deliverance, they have this assurance: “Jehovah will not forsake his people, nor will he leave his own inheritance.”—Psalm 94:14.
Rewards of Kindness
13, 14. Why does a kind person have loyal friends?
13 In imitation of Jehovah, his servants “carry on with one another loving-kindness and mercies.” (Zechariah 7:9; Ephesians 5:1) “The desirable thing in earthling man is his loving-kindness,” and a person manifesting this quality reaps rich rewards. (Proverbs 19:22) What are some of these?
14 Kindness makes us tactful and thus helps us to maintain a good relationship with others. A tactful person says and does things or handles difficult situations in considerate and inoffensive ways. Whereas a “cruel person” suffers ostracism, “a man of loving-kindness is dealing rewardingly with his own soul.” (Proverbs 11:17) People avoid a cruel person but are drawn to one showing them loving-kindness. Hence, a kind individual has loyal friends.—Proverbs 18:24.
15. What effect may kindness have in a religiously divided household?
15 A Christian wife with an unbelieving mate may draw him to God’s truth by such a quality as kindness. Before she learned the truth and put on “the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty,” she may have been unkind, even contentious. (Ephesians 4:24) If her husband had known certain proverbs, he might well have agreed that “the contentions of a wife are as a leaking roof that drives one away” and “better is it to dwell in a wilderness land than with a contentious wife along with vexation.” (Proverbs 19:13; 21:19) But now the Christian wife’s chaste conduct and deep respect, along with such qualities as kindness, may help to win her mate to the true faith. (1 Peter 3:1, 2) Yes, this may be one reward for her kindness.
16. How may we benefit from kindness shown to us?
16 Kindness shown to us may be of benefit by making us more compassionate and forgiving. For example, if we were in need of spiritual assistance and were treated in a kind and mild manner, would that not make us more inclined to deal with others in a similar way? Well, kind and mild treatment can be expected from spiritually qualified men, for Paul wrote: “Brothers, even though a man takes some false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to readjust such a man in a spirit of mildness, as you each keep an eye on yourself, for fear you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1) Appointed elders speak mildly and kindly when they seek to help erring fellow believers. Whether we have personally received such kind help or not, however, what does God expect of all those serving him? All Christians ought to show kindness to others and should heed Paul’s counsel: “Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) Of course, if we have been forgiven by someone or we have been helped out of spiritual difficulty in a kind way, this should increase our own capacity for forgiveness, compassion, and kindness.
Appreciate God’s Undeserved Kindness
17. Since we are sinners from birth, for what kindness should we be especially grateful?
17 Since all of us were born as sinners condemned to death, there is a kindness for which we need to be especially grateful. It is Jehovah God’s undeserved kindness. For sinners to be released from condemnation to death and to be declared righteous is kindness that is totally undeserved. Paul, who mentioned God’s undeserved kindness 90 times in his 14 divinely inspired letters, told Christians in ancient Rome: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and it is as a free gift that they are being declared righteous by his undeserved kindness through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23, 24) How we ought to appreciate the undeserved kindness shown by Jehovah God!
18, 19. How can we avoid missing the purpose of God’s undeserved kindness?
18 By being unappreciative, we could miss the purpose of God’s undeserved kindness. In this regard, Paul said: “We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us. As substitutes for Christ we beg: ‘Become reconciled to God.’ The one who did not know sin he made to be sin for us, that we might become God’s righteousness by means of him. Working together with him, we also entreat you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose. For he says [at Isaiah 49:8, Septuagint]: ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and in a day of salvation I helped you.’ Look! Now is the especially acceptable time. Look! Now is the day of salvation. In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, that our ministry might not be found fault with; but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers.” (2 Corinthians 5:20–6:4) What did Paul have in mind?
19 Anointed Christians are ambassadors substituting for Christ, and the great crowd are his envoys. Together they urge people to become reconciled to God so as to gain salvation. Paul did not want anyone to receive Jehovah God’s undeserved kindness through Jesus Christ and miss its purpose. That could happen to us if we failed to do the work for which that undeserved kindness made us fit. Being on friendly terms with God as those reconciled to him, we will not be receiving his undeserved kindness in vain if we fulfill “the ministry of the reconciliation, namely, that God was by means of Christ reconciling a world to himself.” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19) We will also be doing others the greatest kindness by helping them to become reconciled to God.
20. What will we next examine?
20 Jehovah’s servants use their time and resources in acts of kindness when they seek to help people spiritually through the Christian ministry. But what can we learn from Scriptural examples of kindness in action? Let us next examine some of these and consider other ways to please Jehovah by showing kindness.
How Would You Answer?
□ What is kindness?
□ How can we avoid succumbing to mistaken kindness?
□ Why can Jehovah’s people trust in his loving-kindness?
□ What are some rewards of kindness?
□ By doing what will we not miss the purpose of God’s undeserved kindness?
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Kindness makes Christian elders patient, considerate, and compassionate
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A Christian wife’s kindness may help to win her mate to the true faith
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We can do others the greatest kindness by helping them to become reconciled to God