In Solomon’s description of the virtuous woman he says, “In her tongue is the law of kindness” (Prov. 31:26). Earlier Solomon had also mentioned kindness as a trait to be desired: “There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel―that will stand. What is desired in a man is kindness, And a poor man is better than a liar” (Prov. 19:21-22). One of the characteristics of charity is that it “is kind” (I Cor. 13:4).

In his description of what it means to “put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” and to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” Paul tells us to “put away all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking,” and replace it: “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:22-23, 31-32). In a similar passage to the Colossians, Paul instructs that we “Put on…bowels of mercies, kindness…” (Col. 3:12). And one of the stair steps to building the Christian life is “brotherly kindness” (II Peter 1:7).

Exactly what is kindness? Perhaps it can best be understood by observing words that are given by the dictionary as synonyms (words with similar meaning) of kindness. They include compassion, generosity, benevolence, charity, courtesy, decency, forbearance, gentleness, goodness, graciousness, hospitality, mildness, patience, sweetness, sympathy, tact, tenderness, thoughtfulness, tolerance, understanding, and unselfishness. We can learn much about kindness by observing words that are listed as antonyms (words with opposite meaning). They are cruelty, harshness, and meanness. The first list are things that we all desire to be around; the latter things we like to avoid.

Listen to what others have said about kindness. “For attractive lips, speak words of kindness” (Sam Levenson). “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind” (Henry James). “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see” (Mark Twain). “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love” (Lao Tzu). The person known to the world as “Mother Teresa” advised, “If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.”

Kindness is found in treating the other person as you wish to be treated (Matt. 7:12). Kindness is demonstrated when “a man is overtaken in a fault,” and you seek to “restore such an one in the spirit of meekness” (Gal. 6:1). Kindness is putting into action our wishes and desires and prayers for good (James 2:15-17). Kindness is saying, “I love you” in “word and in tongue,” and then demonstrating it “in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18). Kindness is when we “Speak not evil one of another, brethren,” and when we “Do not grumble against one another, brethren,” as James instructs (James 4:11; 5:9). Kindness is when we “Love the brotherhood” (I Pet. 2:17). Kindness is when we as brethren, are “all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren” and we are “kind-hearted and courteous” (I Pet. 3:8). Kindness is when we “Love your neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:39). Kindness is when we “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Kindness is going the “second mile” (Matt. 5:41). Kindness is when we “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil. 2:4); it is when we “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Kindness is when we “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5), and “follow in His steps” (I Pet. 2:21). He is the perfect example of kindness as He is of all desirable traits.

We live in a world that is often rude and crude. As Christians, let each one of us resolve to take time to show a little kindness. In the words of a popular song of a few years ago: “But if you try a little kindness, then you’ll overlook the blindness of the narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded street.” Every act of kindness makes the world we live in a better place.

-Paul Wilmoth