Small Acts of Kindness

posted in: Love Is - 1 Cor 13 | 0

This post is part of my Love Is series. You can access all of the posts from this series and read more information about it on the Love Is page.

Kindness Outside of Financial Charity

It’s important to understand that kindness can be so much more than just giving money to the people begging on the street corner, giving to missions or donating to the famous charitable organizations. Like I said in the previous post on this topic, there is a danger of just giving money and thinking that now you’ve done your bit and it was enough. Being kind in the context of Biblical love isn’t as simple as that…not as convenient as that.

Kindness should be something that saturates our entire personality on every level; socially, professionally, in your family relationships, at church, at work, with your friends. It should include kindness on even the smallest scale, like offering warm greetings to everyone we see or smiling at people as we pass them in the streets.

Small Acts of Kindness

I once wrote about this in a blog post I called Kindness In Smiles. In it, I wrote about how we can show kindness at even the easiest levels of our lives. We can smile at those who have no reason to smile back at us. Kindness can be as simple as that. A smile, a kind greeting, shaking hands, opening the door for people, picking up trash when you see it, all of these are small acts of kindness.

No, it’s not your job to pick up other people’s litter. No, you probably won’t get anything for doing it. But when you pick up litter, you are blessing a lot of people by making that living space clean and litter free.

The same applies to smiles. When you smile at people and greet them warmly, you often bring light and joy into a place of darkness.

Jesus taught us that those who can be trusted with little will be trusted with much.

Luke 16:10
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

Being kind at this smallest level is one of the ways that we demonstrate to God that we can be trusted for those little things. As a teacher, I enjoy hearing what the younger students describe as their life goals and career plans. But one of the recurring themes that I hear from them which I find a bit unsettling, is that they often want to start off at the top without working their way through the ranks. They want to be generals without first being privates, captains, lieutenants and colonels (figuratively speaking).

But we cannot be trusted with those important responsibilities until we demonstrate growing degrees of competence in the lower positions. In the context of kindness, someone who cannot be friendly to those who will not be friendly in return cannot really be trusted to step into higher levels of kindness. Even when such a person gives much money to missions or charities, it is not very likely that he is doing it for the right reasons. No, it is not my place to judge anyone. I’m not saying that. But it is YOUR place to judge yourself. If you cannot be kind to the people you meet on the streets, ask yourself, are you truly being kind when you give money, or are you expecting recognition, a tax break or some other type of payback? Be honest with yourself.

Kindness Without Lying

Speaking of honesty, it is wrong to use kindness as an excuse to lie. When we say that kindness is when you give what has not been earned or what cannot be repaid, it does not mean that we should sin (lie) to do it.

Leviticus 19:11
Do not steal. Do not lie.  Do not deceive one another.

Regardless of what is popular practice today, lying is wrong and ruinous to everyone involved with the lie. That’s why Christians should always strive to be truthful in their speech, even when they are trying to be kind.

2 Corinthians 4:2
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

As a music teacher, I have to walk the line between kindness and lying every day. I try to be kind to every student, always. But I also try to never tell them that they are doing well when they are not. I never tell them that they sound wonderful if they do not. Lying about the very things I am trying to teach them only leads to bitter disappointment in the end.

If I lie to a student and tell them him that he is doing wonderful, what happens when that student looses an audition or sounds terrible in a public performance? If I lie to a student, thinking wrongly that this is a form of kindness, I mislead that student in ways that not only cause him pain and injury in the future, but it also will hurt the people who were relying on him to perform well. And in the end, it will also hurt me because my reputation as a teacher will then be questionable. If I say a student is ready for an audition and that he sounds wonderful, but I was lying, then it makes me look like someone who is unqualified to make that judgement.

In the end, no one benefits from a lie, even when – no – especially when it was intended as an expression of kindness.

This is just as true outside of music lessons and in every day life. Lying to make people feel good is a selfish practice with ruinous results. How many times have I seen people push forward in the false confidence created by well meaning liars who didn’t have enough nerve to tell the truth? Far too many times! And I have to say that it breaks my heart every time. I hate to see people become so dejected and disappointed. There are very few things as discouraging as learning, as a result of failure, that the people you trusted all lied to you – just to make you feel better.

Lying as a form of false kindness is a cruel, cruel way to destroy someone’s life.

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