I shouldn’t look. But sometimes on Twitter a name or situation in the “Trending” sidebar catches my eye. So I click over. And I am usually sorry I did. All too often, the trending person or group is the subject of undeserved vitriol and ridicule.
Most people would say that the world should be kinder. If only people would just be nicer to each other, we think, then the world would be a better place to live. Wars, murders, and injustice would cease.
But then someone disagrees with our politics, and we lambast them. Or someone cuts us off in traffic, and we call them all kinds of names. Or we see someone wearing a mask while inside their car, alone, and we take to Facebook to make fun of them.
In the earliest days of the pandemic, I got in someone’s way in a store without thinking. As the young man passed me, he looked in my eyes, pulled his mask down, and told his companion, “I hope she gets COVID. I hope she dies from it.” Seriously—to wish death on someone for a minor inconvenience?
If we want a kinder world, we can’t wait for everyone else to make the first move. We need to evaluate our own words and attitudes.
Well, sure, we might say. We need to watch our temper. We probably shouldn’t get on Facebook or Twitter to vent. But, seriously, there are some people . . . like the guy who just will not listen to reason. Or who is totally wrong about the best way to handle immigration, economics, or whatever.
Sadly, many Christians are nor faring any better in the kindness department. Some are gracious and loving online. But many are harsh and judgmental, quick to argue instead of listen, answering in superiority instead of humility. We desperately need revival.
Kindness doesn’t mean passivity, never taking a stand, or never disagreeing. But I think it must at least involve assuming the best rather than the worst motives and not stooping to the lowest levels in the way we answer people made in the image of God, people Jesus loves and died for.
We’re to treat other believers as family: “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). To unbelievers, we should shine as lights. We should be inviting, treating them as those we want to come into the family.
Jesus told his disciples, in the Sermon on the Mount:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
How is it that we apply this to everyone else under the sun, except the person who irritates us the most?
God doesn’t just give good things to those who believe on Him. He “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” He went so far as to die for people who were his enemies:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
And we’re called to be like him.
We can’t do that in our own strength. We need His.
The world at large won’t understand this. But maybe if they see it in action, their eyes might be opened, their hearts more receptive to the truth.
(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)
Oh how I love this. I often find myself wondering who everyone is referring to when they speak of being kinder to one another. It is not very kind to point out one another’s faults. First, we remove the log from our own eyes…then the whole world will see clear.
Kindness seems.to be such a BASIC standard of behavior. We start talking about it with kids before they can even talk, and yet adults struggle to embody kindness. And to think that some would say we don’t need a savior!
I don’t know how people can see a lot of these online interactions and not believe in mankind’s basic sinfulness. I think most people would say the world needs to be kinder, yet…maybe they excuse their own reactions? Or think they are justified for some reason? It’s hard to figure.
Amen, amen, amen. What an excellent piece, Barbara, so needed right about now.
I’m off to share this, friend. I know it will be a gently powerful nudge to those who read it.
Thank you for going there.
Thank you, Linda.
This is such a great post. The world definitely needs much more kindness right now. Thank you for a powerful reminder. 🙂
“If we want a kinder world, we can’t wait for everyone else to make the first move. We need to evaluate our own words and attitudes.” So good. And we can’t do it all in our own strength.
Amen. We all have blind spots and inabilities–we so need God’s grace.
We definitely need more kindness in our world today! I hope we Christians are leading the way on that, especially when we disagree. It’s very hard sometimes, but I do a better job when I start my day (and go into potentially troublesome situations) with prayer and a desire to reflect Jesus.
Yes–prayer is a much needed way to begin. If we pray before the need arises, and even when it does, we can depend on His help.
This is a beautiful message….it surrounds us…..thank you…..Kindness….so counter-cultural now….
Thanks so much!
Love this! Can’t BELIEVE (well, I can, but wow) the guy in the store saying that to you. I try to avoid Twitter almost entirely and Facebook (especially the comments) too; I feel like online communication has made our world much less kind ;( I find that when I’m out among people IN REAL LIFE, I find so many opportunities to be kind and to be ministered to by others as well.
More than 20 years ago, during a lecture on Romans, I heard a statement by Bible Study Fellowship Executive Director Rosemary Jensen that has stuck with me ever since: “Shock the world with kindness.”
What a good reminder. To see kindness even in the face of rudeness would be shocking, indeed.
This was the best thing I have read in a long while. I have seen a major shift in unkindness this past year. Either with the election or the pandemic. I have tried to be the shining light but on occasion, I grow weary. This was an excellent reminder. Thank you!
Kindness is so important and we should definitely be leading the way as Christians. Once we’ve experienced God’s kindness to us that should surely influence us to show kindness to others.
Lovely article. I found a tool online that has helped me deal with the strong emotions I experience when people are not kind. The tool is called Reframing Negative Emotions and it is at the site Clearer Thinking.org
Amen! This reminds me of the Bible verse about the words we speak coming out of the content of our hearts. If our hearts aren’t full of love and Jesus, our filters stop working.
So true. The problem starts long before the provoking moment.
Yes, the tongue can be so evil. Love in our hearts helps what comes out the mouth. I find when out and about in the world, people do seem to be kind.
Amen, Barbara. Such a gentle and wise word for us all to think on today. Kindness seems to be counter-cultural these days. We do not all need to agree but may we do so with love and respect. Who knows if it is not our opinion and choices that will prove wrong? May we guard our hearts so they do not grow cold but remain tender towards those around us.
Timely and true words.
Blessings ~ Wendy Mac
There was a saying going around I think we should revive, “It’s classy to be kind.”
Amen, so very true. Barbara, you’ve summed this up and spoken so beautifully. Blessings.
This–We need to evaluate our own words and attitudes. It’s so easy to hide behind a computer screen and post whatever we want. No matter where we stand on our views, we need to stand for kindness…always and by beginning with ourselves.
Barbara, Your story about getting in someone’s way in the store is haunting and I cringe when I see another Christian speaking unkindly online. Checking on my own behaviors to make certain I’m never contributing! Thank you for this reminder.
Amen to every word, Barbara. It’s the Golden Rule, plain and simple. And you’re right … we don’t have to check our convictions and beliefs and even our opinions at the door, even if they go against the prevailing winds around us. But if we don’t speak with kindness, I feel like we defeat our purpose before we even get to it.
I just wrote a post about a similar topic for my Friday Grace & Truth post, and this would fit in just perfectly as the Featured Post! Thanks for the ways you show kindness online, Barbara. You’ve always been very gracious with me, even when we might not see eye to eye on everything. Kindness begins with each of us!
Thanks so much, Lisa!
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