Basic Kindness – 101



          “Plain, old, basic kindness – it’s Christian Kindergarten!”  (In my head, I also added “…for Pete’s sake!”)  I said that in exasperation, just the other day.  Believing it with all my heart.


This morning in my devotions, God’s word seemed to prove me wrong.  According to II Peter 1:5-7, kindness does not appear to be a virtue mastered in Christianity 101.  If the qualities there are listed in any semblance of spiritual growth order, it appears that what I thought was “basic,” is really more for those who are working on their Christian PhD.


Look how Peter builds it: “…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”  Yikes!  Kindness is next only to “the greatest of these” – love – For Pete’s sake!  Get that?  For Pete’s sake?  II Pete?  Okay…


According to this list, it’s only after we reach a state of thinking we know it all, and have all the answers, and have ourselves under control, and we’re tenacious in faith, that we then qualify to apply for the PhD program of Kindness and Love.  (I wouldn’t get into a doctrinal argument about this; these are just my observances.)


So, as I was mulling this over today, wondering if I was really on to something…  I remembered Ephesians 4:32.  This verse has been a favorite of mine since I learned it in a song, as a child.  “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven you.”  (We sang in King James in those days.)  There it was again, “be kind, tenderhearted.”  The NIV says to be kind and compassionate.


So, I’m pondering all this…Why does “basic” kindness seem to be so difficult, so absent in the lives of many Christians?  What does it take to become tenderhearted?  As I’m asking myself these questions, I see an image in my mind of Round Steak, and what I do to prepare it.  With a special tool, I hammer it.  Over and over. I pulverize it until it becomes tender enough to be used. 


Hmmmmm…..  Kind people seem to be those who have been hammered by life.  Pulverized.  Broken.  They’ve reached the stage where whey know they don’t have it all together.  They’ve discovered they don’t have all the answers.  They’re devastated by their own weaknesses.  They have experienced failure.  They realize that any success is only by the grace of God.  They’re past criticizing and judging, because they are so painfully aware of how desperately they, themselves, are in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness.


When I think of people who touch my life the deepest, it isn’t those who have it all together, it’s those who are kind.  And I’m changing my mind about thinking it’s basic.


 But my gut still says kindness is basically necessary; and God’s word backs this upIn fact, Jesus takes it one step further, He commands us to love.