“I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in.” (Matthew 25:35, NKJV)
The whole world is reeling under the effects of sin. In our very existence we experience a low-grade suffering. Sometimes that suffering is ratcheted up to the extreme. Suffering in our being can be physical or mental, from arthritis to angst. We experience these things ourselves and we are surrounded by others who suffer their own maladies.
Jesus came into this fallen world, subjecting Himself to the miseries of this life, the same miseries we endure. But He came not merely to enter our distress. He came to vanquish it through His redemptive work.
Jesus opened the eyes of the blind, enabled the lame to walk, and cured disease. He performed these miracles to demonstrate that the kingdom of God had come.
Miracles had a particular function in the ministry of Jesus. They weren’t merely attention grabbers, although Jesus did draw a crowd. Miracles were primarily indicators of the nature of Christ’s mission.
Whereas the hallmarks of the kingdom of this world are dysfunction, decay, and disorder, the kingdom of God is a redemptive kingdom that reversed the effects of the fall. Blindness is a symptom of the fall. Jesus cured blindness. Disease might not be attributable to a particular sin but it is to a sin-ravaged creation. Jesus healed disease.
Miracles had a particular purpose in the apostolic era. Certainly God can and does continue to do miracles to this day, but signs and wonders have ceased as normative. Unlike Peter and Paul, no one today is invested with the gift of performing miracles.
That does not mean, however, that we cannot follow in Christ’s steps and bring relief to others. We can bear their burdens. We can help shoulder the weight of life. In so doing, we can testify to the kingdom of God that we serve and seek to advance.
One of the ways we can go about that is through expressions of kindness. In the model of Jesus, kindness is incarnational compassion. We suffer with others as we enter their distress to help ease their burdens.
Integral to our kindness are two facets: sensitivity and activity. We want to be sensitive to the needs of those about us. That means being tuned in with a readiness to help. The other aspect involves acting to alleviate those needs.
We do this all the time. If we see someone approaching a door and struggling under the weight of packages they are carrying, we step up and open the door. That is an act of kindness.
Seeing someone clearly despondent, we might speak up with a word of encouragement. The Bible says: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov. 25:11) and “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Prov. 16:24). Our expressions of kindness can bring beauty to the dismal and vigor to those who are weary and heavy laden with the cares of life.
We can express kindness from the minute to the monumental, from speaking kind words to donating a kidney. It simply involves seeing the need and seizing the opportunity to meet that need.
Kindness is the hands of love, with the mind of Christ.
As a fruit of the Spirit, our expressions of kindness are simply responding to others in kind. As our God has blessed us so we bless others.
And as with miracles, our kindness can serve as occasion to speak to others about Jesus, to point to Him who gives us relief now and eternal relief in the age to come.
- In what way is kindness "incarnational compassion"?
- What are the two aspects of kindness?
Father, by the Holy Spirit fill me with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of Your name.
For study of the fruit of the Spirit through abiding in Christ see A Vine-Ripened Life (Stanley D. Gale, Reformation Heritage Books)
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.