Use words with kindness
Breaking News! Did you hear that scientists have finally found the cause of global warming? The cause has been determined to be Kindness!
While that may sound like a silly opening for an exhortation, kindness can really accomplish much, and it has been said, “That just as the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to melt away.”
I believe the Apostle Paul described the opposite of kindness to us in the third chapter of Colossians when he said now is the time to rid ourselves of all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language. There is a lot in his words that should cause us to reflect on our own behaviors.
In our conversations, do we sometimes use words that we later regret? The easiest place for us to make such a mistake is when we are home with family members, whose everyday kindness we may take for granted.
And here, in the Ecclesia of God, when we believe our position on a matter is being challenged, we are wise to remember to be kind, even if our position is right, because we may sin in the way we treat those with opposite opinions. Paul tells us to clothe ourselves with kindness and humility, gentleness, and patience. We should use those characteristics when interacting with others.
Paul also instructs us in Colossians 3 to avoid foolish arguments, because they produce quarrels. The Lord’s servants must not quarrel; instead we must be kind to everyone, able to teach and not resentful. We must gently instruct those opposed to us in hopes that God will lead them to accept the Truth.
Proverbs 151:4 (NIV) tells us that a gentle answer turns away wrath… and that the tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. So please be careful with the use of your words. With the English language things are so often misunderstood… all the more reason to think carefully about our words before just blurting out the first thought that comes to mind.
Jesus came to heal the sick and those in need. We must follow his lead and understand that we have no permission to crush someone who is in need. Neither should we stand by, while rationalizing why we shouldn’t be the person to provide help. Even if we think the person should be able to help himself and is not REALLY in need of our help. We should be moved to take positive actions to help.
As you go through the week, please consider your ways and your words with a slant towards kindness. And pray that we may be kindly affectioned, one to another, putting the interests of others before ours, because that is what Scripture teaches us to do.
Application to our lives
So how can you apply this part of Scripture to your life?
Well, if in the course of your daily conversations, you find yourself talking and thinking always about yourself or the things that interest you, then you need to regroup, because life is not supposed to be about us. It is about giving glory to God and praying that He will use us as an instrument of His peace.
As much as possible we are called to live at peace with one another and to place the interests of others before our own.
There is nothing more purposeful about this message, except that I should heed its advice. At meetings, we all tend to be too quick to put forth our own opinions as forcefully as possible. We need to tone this down.
What about you? Have you heard anything so far that might change what you do this week?
The Bible is full of examples about kindness that we should consider. Naomi prayed that the Lord would deal kindly to her daughters in law, as they too were kind towards her. She cared so much for her daughters, so much that she prayed, asking the Lord to treat them kindly.
I once observed someone acting exactly opposite of Naomi. It was at a retirement party a few years back when the retiree’s farewell address included the words, “I hope you all get what you deserve.” He said these words in a negative tone of voice. Frankly, it was sad that he carried so much resentment instead of kindness.
The call to be at peace with each other means putting out the effort to go to your brother or sister and actively seek a positive relationship. That is so much better than saying, “As long as I stay away from so and so, things will be okay.” Remember that Jesus taught us to proactively make peace. In Matthew 5 he tells us to leave the gift at the altar and go make amends/reconcile with your brother.
In the Old Testament, we read about Joseph, who had every right to treat his blood brothers the same way that they had treated him, rather he told them to fear not… “I will nourish you.” And we are told in Genesis 50 that he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Joseph knew that God’s purpose prevails over the evil ways of men. He had his mind set on the things above (Col 3:2). He managed to overcome the natural tendency to carry resentment towards his brothers.
Nehemiah spoke of God’s great kindness… if anyone should have lost patience with people it was God, who had the right to give up on His people but Nehemiah points out that He forsook them not.
“[They] refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not. Based upon these examples, we will hopefully conclude that we must be kind to others too. We shouldn’t give up on anyone” (Neh 9:17).
Please try this simple thing during the upcoming week.
Listen to someone who needs to talk. Recently, when faced with a personal emergency, a friend found time to talk to me and advise me. In a show of kindness, this friend called me one evening… it was 9:05 p.m., and happened to be when I was writing this exhortation. He called to be certain things were going well. Ordinarily you wouldn’t call someone so late at night, but under the circumstances, it was a very kind gesture. You remember that kind of kindness.
This week, please stop and listen to someone who needs your attention. Don’t wait for them to interrupt you because most people won’t do that. You may have to ask if they wish to talk about things that are troubling them.
It often hurts when we realize that an opportunity to be kind to someone was missed. At night when you’re winding down and recapping things that happened to you, you sometimes realize that you glossed over a comment from someone who was crying for attention. Thankfully, when we fail, and we all fail, we can turn to God and repent, for He is merciful and of great kindness. And of course, nothing prevents us from circling back to people and following up with them to make sure their concerns are addressed.
Finally, Jonah was certain that the people of Nineveh did not deserve God’s kindness. But he was shown otherwise. Jonah was made to recognize that God judges people, and that we should not judge others. We too must not condemn others with our words. During the upcoming week, please give someone a chance… lend them an ear and be careful about your tone of voice. Please remember to encourage others because we are all, from time to time, in great need of kindness, the same bountiful kindness that we saw evidence of in the Scriptural passages that were referenced.
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:33-37).
We must remember to be kind one to another, just as the Good Samaritan was kindhearted and helpful. Jesus tells us about the Good Samaritan for a reason, so as we approach the upcoming week, let us conduct ourselves in a similar fashion, by picking someone up who is in need of our kindness.
Tony Pezzulo (Moorestown, NJ)