Ephesians 4:32 says: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Galatians 5:22-23 says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.”
These two Bible verses perfectly illustrate what kindness can do, and that being kind (along with gentle, faithful, etc.) can never be wrong.
So, what then are acts of kindness? How can we use those acts to spread peace, love and happiness to those around us? Acts of kindness, especially random acts of kindness, are the little things we can do each day to make someone else feel appreciated and valued. Kindness can be reserved for loved ones, or strangers, or acquaintances: anyone with whom you come into contact with within a given day.
It’s how Jesus lived. It’s how we should live.
But one of the biggest confusions surrounding the true meaning of kindness is that being kind doesn’t always look nice. You may have a pleasant disposition, but this doesn’t mean you always make others happy. Kindness, sometimes, may mean you have to disappoint someone else. True kindness can be complicated, and it may leave you feeling less than kind. But even when you say no, you are doing so from a place of love and compassion.
There’s a slight distinction:
- “Kindness” is based on your ethics, your values, and your beliefs.
- “Niceness” is based on how other people perceive you.
Kindness: Rooted in Empathy and Acceptance
Empathy is the ability to truly understand someone else’s situation, experience, feelings, and behaviors. The Bible frequently refers to acts of empathy. Of course, Jesus is our best example of empathy, as he was born as a human so He could experience every emotion. The Gospel contains many stories of Christ showing compassion for those who need it. In Luke 7:11-16, Jesus saw a widow in pain and was filled with compassion for her, feeling her deep sorrow and grief. He brought her son back to life, and everyone rejoiced because they saw how He understood and healed pain.
When we look at our own lives, we can see how acts of kindness can be rooted in acceptance and empathy.
There are many ways in which we can be kind and compassionate to someone who needs help. We can:
- Be sensitive and sympathetic
- Create a positive outlook and instill hope
- Recognize and validate positive changes
- Help others solve problems
- Reduce their stress
- Help with practical things, such as medications and appointments
But an act of kindness can be something as simple as smiling at someone at the store when you can see they’re having a tough time. Or paying for the coffee of the person behind you. Or opening the door for an elder, giving up a seat on the subway, calling a friend who’s going through a breakup. There are countless ways we can impart kindness that doesn’t cost much more than our time.
Benefits of Kindness and Compassion
Small acts of kindness are powerful for both the person being kind and the recipient. Numerous studies have shown that kindness and compassion are associated with:
- Improved happiness
- Improved mental health
- Stronger immune system
- Reduced anxiety, stress and depression
- Improved relationships
- Longer life
Research also tells us that the satisfaction you get from giving to others tends to create a “positive feedback loop”: the more you give, the more positive you feel, which in turn gives you greater happiness.
Try it: perform an act of kindness today, and reflect on how it makes you feel. Find small ways each day to mirror Jesus’ loving acts. And to learn how Remnant Community Church is instilling kindness in the hearts of those around us, see our recent sermons or learn how we set out to help others.