PRINCIPLE 18 | CULTIVATE KINDNESS
This past weekend we talked about I Corinthians 13:4 where it says, “love is kind.” As Christians, we are called to be kind. Here are a few scriptures that remind us to be on a quest to be kind:
- Proverbs 3:3 — “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Said simply: cultivate kindness.
- Galatians 5:22, 23 — “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…”
- Proverbs 31:26 — “When she speaks her words are wise and kindness is the rule for everything she says.”
And I like these proverbs as well:
- Greek Proverb — “Kindness begets kindness.”
- African Proverb — “Kindness is a language which the blind can see and the deaf can hear.”
- Rob Proverb — It is wise, loving, and godly to cultivate a culture of kindness in your home and relationships.
I read an article the other day that stated, “America has a trash problem.” According to a study out of Columbia University, Americans trash seven pounds of material per person every day — that’s 2,555 pounds of material per American every year. And a staggering 90% of this trash is dumped into landfills or burned, polluting air, contaminating our drinking water, choking our oceans, and wasting our natural resources.
It got me thinking about the fact that many people have an emotional garbage problem.
We need to recognize the things that kill kindness in our relationships and eliminate them from our lives and relationships. Paul points out two major categories of KINDNESS KILLERS in Ephesians 4:29-5:2: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Notice these 2 categories of “Kindness Killers” that we need to eliminate from our family environments:
- TRASH TALKING: DISPOSE OF IT | Eph. 4:29-30
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
The Bible says our tongue can build or bruise, construct or contaminate, heal or hurt. Here are a few examples of “trash talking” that are killing our family relationships:
> Direct verbal abuse: Name-calling, put-downs
> Indirect verbal abuse: Veiled humor, sarcasm
> Words of judgment: Belittle, demean, blame, shame, fault finding
> Also, what we don’t say can be hurtful: Ignore, tune out, harsh stares, grunts, don’t affirm or build
Question: Would you be OK if someone dumped a bunch of trash and rotting food everywhere in your house? Of course not! So then, we need to get the trash out of our homes. Trash-talking can ruin our family relationships.
I love these powerful scriptures:
> Colossians 3:12 — “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
> Proverbs 16:24 — “Kind words are like honey; sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
> Proverbs 21:21 — “Be kind and honest and you will live a long life; others will respect you and treat you fairly.”
> Proverbs 11:17 — “Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.”
- INTERNAL GARBAGE: DUMP IT | Eph. 4:31
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”As I asked above, would you live in a home with smelly garbage everywhere? If you won’t allow it in your house, why do you let it in your home by way of family relationships?Here are some heart issues that need to be “cleaned up” if we are going to win at family relationships. Allowing these issues to remain will kill your relationships:
> Bitterness: long-standing resentment
> Rage: uncontrolled frustration, outbursts
> Anger: habitual steaming
> Brawling: obnoxious shouting, loud assertions (vs. “a soft answer turns away wrath.”)
> Slander: tearing down
> Malice: bad feelings of every kind
You could say that malice is the tree and others are the fruit. Matthew 12:33-37 says: “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
So this week I challenge you: make it your mission to get rid of garbage and be a giver of God’s grace! Paul wraps up this passage by reminding us that we are to:
- Build, not bruise
- Heal, not hurt
- Strengthen, not sicken
- Add value, not devalue
Kindness must be a key construction component in all relationships. Ask yourself: How can I be more kind? The answer: Give God’s grace.
Read Ephesians 4:32-5:2 again and commit it to memory: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Let’s make it our prayer to get better at being kind. While nobody’s perfect, everyone can get better. And we all need to get healthy individually so we can work on making our family environments healthy. May we all live to impress Jesus and be more kind.