Wondering what you need to add to your home? Forget about possessions … kindness always is needed!
Imagine walking through your door and being greeted by someone you love — it might be your spouse, child, parent, grandparent, or a friend.
First, imagine their happiness when they see you. Can you see their smile? Can you hear their greeting? Did you get a hug … or even a kiss?Did they show some kind of genuine interest in you and where you’ve been?
Now, reimagine the welcome. Only this time, they’re not very happy to see you. They might mutter a “hello” or even storm into the other room. Do they greet you with angry words? Insults? Do you feel defeated or deflated the moment you see them?
Of course these mental pictures may seem over the top. How can one version be so warm and welcoming while the other version makes you want to walk right back out the door?
Yet this imagery is a perfect way to illustrate what’s missing so often in our homes — and so desperately in our world today: Basic human kindness.
The Trendiness of Kindness
Long before life turned upside down in 2020 and 2021, kindness was a huge push for kids everywhere. Anti-bullying campaigns were adopted as a normal part of schools, and kindness merchandise was marketed by many retailers.
“Kindness is My Superpower.”
“Throw Kindness Like Confetti.”
“Being Kind is Cool.”
“Kindness is Everything.”
Telling the world to be kind is trendy, for sure. But are we living out these sentiments? Do you actually see any of this kindness if and when you turn on the news or scroll through social media?
For all of the judgment, animosity, and extremes in opinions shown in recent weeks and months, does any of that show kindness? Of course not.
And the more that basic ideas, opinions, and beliefs are shamed and censored, the more that kindness disappears and bullying is normalized.
The Intentionality of Kindness
So where does all of that unkindness leave you and me?
Well, we definitely don’t need incessant reminders to be kind. Forget the T-shirt slogans and mantras. Forget about random acts of kindness.
Instead of following a trend that sounds good, what if you would intentionally decide to be kind?
- Even if you disagree (slightly or completely) with someone else’s opinion.
- Even if you’re having a bad day.
- Even if the person you’re dealing with is blatantly unkind to you.
This choice to be kind and pursuit of kindness is the sort of life taught throughout the Bible:
“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” — Proverbs 21:21
“And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.’ ” — Zechariah 8-10
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” — Micah 6:8
“He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” — Job 6:14
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” — Proverbs 31:26
Clearly, the call to be kind is nothing new.
What makes kindness different?
So if being kind is a biblical command as well as a modern antidote to being a bully, what makes it so different? Why do we even need a reminder to be kinder?
First of all, kindness doesn’t come naturally. When you’re wronged or when someone disagrees with your opinion, a kind reaction typically isn’t your first response.
What is natural is to treat people the way they treat you. If and when people are kind to you, it’s easy to be kind to them. If they’re nasty and harmful, it’s easy to be nasty and seek vengeance. That’s human nature. As Jesus taught in the Beatitudes:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?” (Matthew 5:43-47)
This kind of lovingkindness — love for the unloving, goodness for haters, prayers for your persecutors — doesn’t come naturally.
But it does come through the power of the Holy Spirit.
When you ask Him to fill you and to pour out His kindness through you, it’s possible. You stop trying to be kind in your own power and through your own efforts and let His kindness bubble out from you.
That kind of kindness is part of the fruit that comes from life in the Spirit. It’s evidence of a life spent seeking after the Lord. As you add more of Him in your life, the less you’ll be aware of your natural responses. And the more natural His kindness will become.
Filling your corner of the world with kindness
It’s pretty obvious what a world without kindness looks like, and quite frankly, it’s depressingly scary. You and I may not be able to change the world. We won’t be able to change everyone’s reactions, attitudes, words, or deeds. But we can change our own. And we can shape our own corners of the world.
While your corner of the world includes people you come in contact with — from store associates to co-workers to people you pass on the street to acquaintances and friends — you also can try narrowing your focus to your home.
What would it look like and feel like to intentionally be kind to everyone in your home? How can you speak to them them with more kindness? How can you show kindness by respecting their unique lives, opinions, gifts, abilities, and preferences? What nice thing could you do for them?
The thing is, if the world feels like a challenging, discouraging place, where can we find kindness? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to use our homes as places of refreshing? Could there be many things more lifechanging than to bless someone else with a haven of goodness? What if the people who entered our homes felt better off for being under our influence and filled up with our grace?
Imagine using your home as a place to fill people with encouragement and lifegiving words and hope.
How can you transform your home’s atmosphere?
It may be nice to think that you love everyone who lives in your home every single moment of every single day. But conflict and disagreements happen. Moods change. It can be easier to take the people in your home for granted than fully appreciate them.
If you happen to notice that you treat complete strangers with more kindness than the people you live with, it’s time to change. Instead of saving your smiles and politeness for acquaintances, treat the people closest to you in a similar way.
Choosing this kind of kindness is sacrificial:
- In the middle of the night, when your child gets sick and calls for you, getting out of a cozy bed to go and soothe or clean up a disgusting mess is the kind response.
- When your spouse has been working hard all day but you choose to stop what you’re doing and quickly pick up the house 20 minutes before he gets home, that’s an intentional act of kindness.
- When you’d prefer to spend an evening by yourself to decompress after a stressful day, but your husband, kids, and dog all are begging for your attention, smiling and spending time with them is a beautiful picture of kindness.
Even if it’s sacrificial, it’s a valuable investment to pour your time, energy, and attention into someone else. It’s a noble and effective strategy to battle all the ugliness in the world around us.
Kindness may not and will not always feel natural. Often you may feel like you’re sacrificing your own will, pleasure, or interests.
But pouring your life and love into others will change the atmosphere of your home. Kindness will improve your relationships. And it will end up changing you and your heart for the better.
Try adding kindness to your home and pay attention to the results. You’ll be surprised what a difference it will make.
For you, what’s one of the most challenging aspects in showing kindness? What’s one of the easiest?
Images courtesy of Pexels and Unsplash.
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