If you've written an article or essay before then you understand the battle it can sometimes be to form a concept. Even with all the plotting, outlining, and researching coming up with a solid point can be a struggle. Or worse!
My first journalism article felt a lot like torture. I was in my third year of university and finally I had the opportunity to write something where I interviewed real people—not just classmates and friends. So of course I wanted to write the best article ever presented to anyone ever in all of history. The assignment was to choose a theme and then find sources to interview about the theme. Simple right? Write about anything.
Not simple. I had no idea what to write about. And worse still, my professor dismissed all my ideas so I started from scratch each and every class. For weeks this continued until I was instructed to “Just pick something from your list and go with it.”
So I did. I chose Acts of Kindness. Beside the topic my professor had written “Not strong.” But what else could I do? I had no more ideas and no more time.
Although I hadn't seen the movie Pay it Forward I don't doubt the concept sparked my interest in the topic. And as I dug into it I discovered random acts of kindness can change a person's life. I spoke with people who had experienced kindness when they needed it most, and people who had built their lives on the foundation of showing kindness to others. The stories were inspirational, but I also noticed the people I spoke with seemed surprised that someone had treated them so well.
I wonder why we're so surprised when people are nice to us. As Christians being kind to others should be second nature, shouldn't it? Here are a few ways the Bible speaks about kindness:
- We are to clothe ourselves in kindness and forgive one another (Colossians 3:12)
- Kindness is evidence of the Holy Spirit in us (Galatians 5:22)
- We are saved because of Christ's kindness, despite our sinfulness. We are to treat others in the same way (Romans 11:22; Ephesians 2:6-8)
So why do we hold back our kindness from others?
Maybe it's because as a society we seek after our own interests first, and others' interests second. Or lower. Maybe it's because it means giving ourselves without expecting anything in return. It's not an easy attitude to adopt. Or maybe we have been kind in the past and it ended up hurting us. Now we're shy. We are afraid to give because we'll get taken advantage of. Whatever the reason, kindness isn't something we expect from others or ourselves anymore.
I would like to think I'm a nice person but this probably isn't true. Sure I can be nice when people are nice to me first but what about when someone is trying to cut in line, or when my neighbour is loud, or when my sibling is demanding attention? Am I clothed in kindness then?
In thinking about where I can improve I've challenged myself to make kindness my first response, not an afterthought. Here is my motivation “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you,” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).
There are lots of ways we can show kindness to others. Here are a few easy ways to make it a part of our everyday lives.
- Hold a door open for someone
- Donate gently used items to people who could use them
- Pick up litter around the neighbourhood
- Return a shopping cart
- Thank a bus driver/cashier/etc.
Being kind is a risk, we could be misunderstood or taken advantage of, but it is worth it. When we take the time to help someone else we're allowing God to work through us. Who knows the ripple effect our kind acts will cause!